Georgia PSC to hear arguments on railroad request to condemn land

(The Center Square) — The Georgia Public Service Commission will hold oral arguments on a railroad’s request to condemn land for a proposed 4.5-mile-long spur.

A PSC hearing officer previously ruled the Sandersville Railroad can take private land from several Sparta property owners, saying its proposed rail spur — the Hanson Spur — “serves a legitimate public purpose.”

The Sandersville Railroad, a Class III short-line railroad, initially petitioned the PSC in March 2023 to condemn land for the spur and subsequently moved to condemn additional land. The railroad’s existing tracks are about 25 miles from Sparta, and the spur would connect a rock quarry southeast of the city with a CSX Transportation rail line but not existing Sandersville Railroad tracks.

The Institute for Justice, which represents some area property owners, previously told The Center Square the railroad’s “attempt to take our clients’ land does not serve a public interest.” However, the railroad’s president previously told The Center Square that the project was “carefully planned … to have the least possible impact on local residents and landowners.”

The PSC unanimously voted Tuesday to allow the oral arguments. Three parties in the case — the railroad, the landowners and the No Railroad in Our Community Coalition — are expected to each have 20 minutes to argue their perspective during the hearing.

A date for the hearing has not been set.