Sen. Schumer: Fairport hampered by CSX trains through Main St.

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FILE- In this July 31, 2018, file photo a Union Pacific train travels through Union, Neb. A federal judge has ruled that the nation’s four largest railroads can’t exclude details of their conversations from lawsuits challenging billions of dollars of charges the railroads imposed in the past. The ruling on Friday, Feb. 19, 2021, undercuts one of the defenses Union Pacific, BNSF, CSX and Norfolk Southern had offered in dozens of lawsuits major companies filed last year questioning the way railroads set rates. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

FAIRPORT, N.Y. (WROC) — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is urging CSX to make adjustments for trains running through Fairport and prevent prolonged stops at the crossing along State Rt. 250/Main Street.

According to Schumer, the stopped and idling trains not only cause major traffic jams, but because the streets are inaccessible, could also obstruct critical emergency services required to respond quickly to incidents.

“Slowed-down and idling trains on Main Street are leaving Fairport residents and businesses stranded and endangering everyone by cutting off direct access to the rest of the community, and worse, emergency services,” Sen. Schumer said in a statement.

“Residents aren’t even able to take full advantage of the recently reopened Main Street Lift Bridge because of trains that block Main Street for long periods of time. I’m calling on CSX to immediately work to alleviate the issue and look into changing where their trains stop in order to restore safety, support Main Street businesses, and end needless motorist delays.”

After several delays, the Fairport Lift Bridge officially opened in June.

The historic bridge closed to public travel in September of 2019, making daily commutes through the village more difficult and slowing the flow of traffic to Fairport’s business district.

The project was delayed for a second time earlier this year, with New York State Department of Transportation officials citing supply chain issues leading to the delay in getting necessary materials for the rehabilitation process.

As part of the state’s ongoing efforts to strengthen existing canal roadways within the region, the Main Street lift bridge received multiple upgrades and extensive repairs. Improvements included the replacement of the bridge’s flooring system with high-strength galvanized steel and updates to its lifting mechanism. The project’s main objective is to preserve the bridge.

The bridge, located adjacent to the CSX tracks, connects the northern and southern halves of Main Street through the village and since its reopening, traffic has resumed to normal levels along Main Street. Sen. Schumer’s office says this further exacerbating the impact of long wait times at the rail crossing just north of the bridge.

Just east of Main Street, the railroad tracks converge from three tracks to two tracks and require eastbound trains to slow or stop, which leaves the rear of trains blocking the Main Street intersection for prolonged periods of time.

Schumer noted that Fairport residents have reported trains stopped along the Main Street tracks for periods that have lasted between 30 minutes to almost an hour and suggested that future delays could be avoided if eastbound trains are directed to stop prior to crossing Main Street. Schumer said the train crossing delays are not only a safety concern and an inconvenience for residents, but are also a hindrance to Main Street’s local business as they work to recover from the pandemic and from the nearly two-year-long Lift Bridge repairs.

Read Sen. Schumer’s full letter below:

Dear Mr. Foote,

I write today to bring your attention to an ongoing issue regarding the stoppage of trains along State Rt 250/Main Street in Fairport, NY, leading to traffic jams and public safety concerns in the community.

When the three tracks that cross Main Street converge to two tracks further east, eastbound trains have slowed or come to a complete halt. Unfortunately, when the trains stop they are often still blocking Main Street’s grade crossing. Members of the community have reported that the road is blocked for up to 45 minutes on a regular basis.

Traffic jams along Main Street have become especially disruptive lately as Fairport this month reopened their Main Street Lift Bridge which had been under repair and closed to traffic for two years and is located adjacent to the CSX tracks. Since the bridge’s reopening, which connects the northern and southern halves of Main Street through the village, traffic has resumed to normal levels along Main Street, further exacerbating the impact of long wait times at the rail crossing just north of the bridge.

The bottleneck creates several public safety concerns as well. Traffic jams along Main Street can make it difficult for first responders to quickly respond to incidents in the village and local residents have observed that the long wait times have caused some drivers to rush past the tracks as the crossing gates go down. Community members have also alerted me that pedestrians waiting to cross the road have at times crossed past the stopped train, putting them at risk as trains along the other tracks continue to speed by.

I would appreciate your attention to this matter and ask that you look for ways to alleviate this situation for the people of Fairport, potentially by holding trains west of the Main Street and O’Connor Road crossings if there is a blockage further east on the tracks. Directing eastbound trains to stop and hold before crossing State Rt 250/Main Street until any blockage is cleared would enable vehicles to continue to traverse Main Street.  

Thank you in advance for your consideration.

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