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Unhitched, Idle Lumbar Cars Are Parked in Benton Despite Community Protests with No Indication of When They will Be Moved

In personal letter to Head Of Federal Surface Transportation Board, Senator Urges Their Immediate Removal

Schumer: These Rail Cars Threaten to Derail Public Safety

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on the head of DOT’s Surface Transportation Board Francis P. Mulvey to urge the Finger Lakes Railroad to remove the unwelcome parked rail cars in Benton, NY.   According to neighborhood residents, a string of lumbar cars are parked in Benton, and have not left. Residents are concerned that the rail cars will become a magnet for vagrants, expose the community to unsavory graffiti, and could pose a hazard for curious children who explore the unlocked cars. Today Schumer weighed in with a personal letter to STB head Michael Mulvey, calling on him to immediately request that the Finger Lakes Railroad remove the unwanted cars from the neighborhood.
“They say good fences make good neighbors. Unfortunately for the residents of Benton, there is no fence big enough to block out the unwelcome rail cars the Finger Lakes Railroad has decided to allow to park in the neighborhood,” Schumer said. “The railroad should heed the residents’ outcry, immediately remove the rail cars from this community, and adopt a good neighbor policy of never parking rail cars in residential neighborhoods.  I’ve asked the Surface Transportation Board head to personally weigh in, and help get these cars moved.”
Unfortunately, Benton has no authority to demand that the cars be removed. The only agency with the authority to mandate removal of the cars is the federal Department of Transportation. Schumer today took Benton residents’ protest to the top, so that the rail cars are removed in a timely fashion.
The full text of the letter is below.
July 17, 2009
Francis P. Mulvey, Acting Chairman
U.S. Department of Transportation
Surface Transportation Board
395 E Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20423-0001
Dear Mr. Mulvey:
I write to express concern with the presence of a line of center-beam lumber cars that have been placed for storage on the stretch of tracks between Flat Street and Havens Corners Road in Benton, NY.  I am specifically concerned that Finger Lakes Railway has not indicated to residents and the town when the cars, which are both an eyesore and safety hazard, will be removed from their community.  I ask that Finger Lakes Railway waste no time in relocating the cars.
It is my understanding that Finger Lakes Railway is currently storing approximately 50 third party-owned rail cars at this location, with the potential for an additional 200 cars that will extend the expanse of tracks used for storage north to Loree Road.  The Town of Benton and the Yates County Industrial Development Agency met with Finger Lakes Railway to express concern with the stray cars that have been left in their community.  The town feels that use of the rail line for storage is a violation of local zoning laws, and the cars should be removed.  Finger Lakes Railway believes that federal law allows them to store cars on the tracks, but gave the town no indication of when the cars will be removed.
The residents of Flat Street and Pre-Emption Road, whose homes and property back up to this rail line, are understandably concerned about the presence of the rail cars.  The cars pose both an aesthetic issue as well as a safety issue, as residents are greatly concerned about children playing on the abandoned cars.
I ask that Finger Lakes Railway swiftly relocate the center-beam cars to a more appropriate location that is not in a residential area.  Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter, and if you have any questions or need further information please contact my office. 
                                                                                                                                                 Charles E. Schumer
                                                                                                                                                 United States Senator


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