(Canton, New York – October 28, 2013)
Despite the opposition of numerous communities, local and state politicians, and appeals to the federal government, CSX has no plans to delay or alter a planned 60% speed increase, from 25 mph to 40 mph, along a rail line through the entire length of St. Lawrence, NY County, generally through the communities of Canton, Antwerp and Potsdam, NY, and extending across the US/Canadian border as far as Montreal, QU.
CSX said that its plan “shouldn’t surprise anyone,” a CSX spokesman told WWNY-TV, Channel 7.
Even though the speed increase will have a considerably negative effect upon the New York State Dept. of Transportation’s work to rebuild State Highway 11 through Canton, forcing changes in scheduling and procedures and resulting in increased costs and delay, CSX claimed that the increase “was consistent with the plan announced late in 2012,” when CSX outlined plans for the speed limit revision in the area between Antwerp and Potsdam, NY. According to the statement provided by CSX public relations official Bob Sullivan, “the decision to adjust the speed limit in Canton now, rather than later, was actually intended to reduce the impact of the (NYSDOT) work by doing it at the same time the road work was underway, thereby avoiding any further disruptions or closures at a later time.”
Late last month, a meeting was held between railroad officials and public leaders, organized by NY 48th District State Senator Patty Ritchie at the request of Canton Village Trustee Mary Ann Ashley. Citing in a news release that “Village leaders were concerned by the railroad’s plan to raise the speed limit for freight trains that rumble through the center of town day and night, and I wanted to hear CSX’s plan to ensure residents, college students and visitors would be safe in view of faster trains,” the meeting’s participants included Canton Mayor David Curry, Town Councilman Paul Backus, Village Attorney Gerald Ducharme, CSX Regional Vice President Maurice O’Connell and CSX Community Affairs Safety Officer Robert Rohauer, as well as the organizers, State Senator Ritchie and Village Trustee Ashley.
Ritchie also contacted the Federal Railroad Administration to inform them of the community’s concern, addressing the FRA’s Regional Safety Office at Region 1 headquarters in Cambridge, MA. “With two colleges and many of their students taking shortcuts across CSX railroad tracks at all hours of the day and night, village officials are very concerned about the real potential for a tragedy,” Senator Ritchie told the FRA. “I would like to ask your agency to work with village officials and New York State Department of Transportation officials to reduce the speed of CSX trains travelling through Canton before someone is hurt or killed,” the senator implored.