Valdosta-Palatka line : LUSENET : Georgia Southern & Florida RR Historical Society : One Thread

In the early 1900s this line connected to the FEC by a bridge over the St. Johns. The bridge was abandoned, then eventually Lake City-Palatka trackage was abandoned by NS in favor of trackage rights over CSX to the Palatka mills. But here's the question. I wonder if GS&F, or NS, or even FEC, ever considered using this line/route to bypass Jacksonville. Run through freights Miami-Valdosta and points north by veering off at Bunnell via Palatka-Lake City-Valdosta. Reduces mileage and train-handling time in Jax. Yes I know, upgrading the line and rebuilding the St. Johns bridge would cost plenty, but its an intriguing route.

-- bob lowry (, February 01, 2002


Bob, I expect that the Strategic Planning staffs at FEC, NS and GS&F gave considerable thought to the option of a Palatka - Valdosta service route over the years. Back when Jacksonville was really a traffic bottleneck, the Palatka - Valdosta line was recognized as a viable alternate route. Obviously, the traffic planners didn't consider the P - V route worthy of continued usage after the bottleneck problems in Jacksonville were alleviated, and allowed the St. Johns River Bridge at Palatka to be removed rather than rebuilt.

With the FEC, train consist transfers to/from other railroads have to happen somewhere, no matter which route is used. Over the past several decades, train transfers between NS and FEC at Jacksonville have become very time-efficient. This occurance, combined with the considerations that (1) NS currently has a well-maintained, high speed rail line between Valdosta and Jacksonville, and (2) NS also has a rather considerable rail customer base in Jacksonville, and obviously would like to maintain/expand that base, it would appear highly unlikely that NS would decide to expend a very large capital investment in the construction of another rail line, including a drawbridge across the St. Johns River at a rather wide spot. Given the current operating conditions, NS would not achieve any significant benefits from the V - P connection, but would gain some partially redundant trackage. The only prospect that may make the NS and FEC planners get excited about reinventing the route is the recognition of future tonnage loads that would create massive clogging problems in the Jacksonville terminals, and which could be solved by a bypass route. The reinvention of the Palatka - Valdosta rail line as a gateway route is an intriguing concept. Who knows!?! Aaron Dowling (

-- Aaron Dowling (, December 26, 2002.

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