U.S. Senator Charles Schumer is calling on CSX Corporation to fix two deteriorated railroad crossings in the Town of New Windsor. The two intersections are riddled with tire-eating potholes.
“These deteriorating rail crossings in New Windsor routinely cause minor accidents and it is only a matter of time before something more severe happens,” Schumer wrote in a press release on Jan. 24.
The high-traffic intersections are located at Union and Erie avenues, and Old Temple Hill Road and Route 300, the second busiest road in the county. The town is asking for a permanent, concrete crossing to be installed at both busy junctures.
It was non-stop traffic at the Route 300 crossing on Monday. Drivers barreled downhill toward the Union Avenue crossing that day, hitting the breaks just seconds before making a rough pass over the tracks.
Schumer penned a letter to CSX President and Chief Executive Officer James Foote earlier this month. “Recent reports from the town indicate the crossings are causing accidents related to popped tires and severe automobile damage, as well as risks to cyclists using the crossing,” Schumer wrote. “As traffic continues to increase on these roads, it is important for CSX to meet with New Windsor officials to develop a permanent and long-term solution for these decrepit and dangerous crossings.”
First responders and emergency crews also need to use these crossings, Schumer stated. “The roads around the tracks keep deteriorating, creating huge potholes,” said New Windsor Town Supervisor George Green. “Cars are blowing tires and breaking axels.”
The problem gets worse in the winter time, Green said, with the ice and snow. “The issue is CSX hasn’t done a good job of maintaining them, and they’re located on state roads,” explained Green. “It’s been a problem for years.”
The areas have been covered with blacktop in the past, but it quickly disintegrated, Green said. About five years ago, the New York State Department of Transportation installed a rubberized crossing at the intersection on Route 300. A few years later, Green said, “It came apart.”
The town has contacted CSX headquarters in Miami, Florida, to appeal for help, Green said, to no avail. “We’ve asked everyone for help,” he said, adding, “It’s a state road. Why should we go to all this expense to take care of a state problem? It’s our people getting their cars damaged.”
Moreover, Green pointed out, the railroads are largely unused. “I haven’t seen a train come through there in years,” he said.
So far, CSX nor the state DOT have provided a timeframe for any permanent repairs. “If I was the CEO of CSX and I got a call from the senate minority leader of the U.S. Senate, you can damn well believe it would be taken care of it expeditiously,” Green said.
By SHANTAL RILEY