FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 20, 2012
SCHUMER DEMANDS CSX STEP UP TO THE PLATE & REMOVE THREE ABANDONED, DETERIORATING RAILROAD BRIDGES THAT PUT MOTORISTS AT RISK AND IMPEDE TRAFFIC FLOW TO DOWNTOWN SPENCERPORT’S BUSINESS DISTRICT
After Years of Foot-Dragging, Schumer Urges CSX To Prioritize Removal of Three Abandoned Railroad Bridges in Spencerport & Ogden That Are Unsafe, Deteriorating and Impede Traffic in Business District; CSX Set Removal for Last February, But It Never Happened
Schumer Joins Local Business Leaders, Public Officials From Ogden & Spencerport to Call on CSX to Remove Bridges Once and For All – In Recent Months, Several Trucks Have Been Caught Under Bridges, Causing Traffic Jams & Hampering Business
Schumer: CSX Can’t Put Abandoned Bridges On Back Burner
Today, in front of the CSX bridge at Union Street in Spencerport, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer called on CSX to prioritize the removal of three abandoned and graffiti-ridden railroad bridges in the Town of Ogden and Village of Spencerport. In addition to the Union Street bridge at the entrance to the Spencerport business district, two other low-hanging bridges over Manitou Road and Washington Street have been abandoned for decades, and CSX has failed to fulfill its commitment to the Ogden and Spencerport communities to remove these deteriorating structures that pose serious danger to motorists and residents. What’s more, in recent months commercial trucks have been lodged under these bridges, causing hours of traffic, and stifling the flow of commercial goods and customers to the town’s business district. Last February, CSX hired a contractor to remove all three bridges, but the contractor failed to perform the project, and the bridges remain in place. CSX ended their service on these tracks in 1982, and with that, all upkeep and maintenance; now the local community widely regards these bridges as unattractive eyesores and safety hazards, and Schumer is urging CSX to live up to its commitments and swiftly remove these structures.
“For decades, these three dilapidated and graffiti-ridden CSX bridges have sat abandoned – and now their only role in the Town of Ogden and Village of Spencerport is as dangerous eyesores with the capacity to impede traffic and business flow,” said Schumer. “When the rail service ended on these lines in 1982, so did maintenance and safety upgrades, and now CSX must step up to the plate and make the removal of these bridges a number one priority. The bridges’ continued presence over major thoroughfares is an affront to the community and a constraint on Spencerport’s business district, and it’s time that CSX live up to its commitments to this Rochester-area community and remove these unusable, unsightly and unsafe structures.”
Schumer was joined by Spencerport officials, including Chamber of Commerce President David Haines, Code Enforcement Officer Kevin Kelly, Deputy Fire Chief Doug Case and assorted Village Trustees. Schumer was also joined by Ogden Town Supervisor Gay Lenhard and Police Chief Doug Nordquist, as well as representatives from Tops Supermarket and Rite Aid pharmacy, both of which have had delivery trucks get stuck under the Union Street Bridge.
Delivery trucks such as those to Tops Supermarket and Rite Aid have routinely hit the Union Street Bridge, which has a clearance of only 11 feet, seven inches. Once stuck, the cleanup has often taken hours and halts traffic throughout Spencerport, impacting local stores, businesses, commuters, and school buses. Especially worrisome is the effect this has had on fire and ambulance services, which are unable to respond promptly to emergencies when isolated on one side of the bridge. Each strike also further weakens the structural integrity of the bridge, which is already suffering from a nonfunctioning drainage system and a crumbling main column foundation. Within the past two months alone, two more trucks became wedged under the Union St. bridge, one of which took five hours to tow out. Schumer highlighted that in addition to the damage these trucks cause to the bridge, and the subsequent delays in delivery of commercial goods and traffic into Spencerport’s business district, another top concern is the increasing likelihood that heavy debris could fall and injure a motorist passing underneath.
Schumer noted that officials in Monroe County, Spencerport, and Ogden are concerned based on recent conversations with CSX, particularly related to their intent to remove the bridge on Union St, Manitou Rd and Washington St. According to Spencerport Mayor Joyce Lohene, CSX indicated in December 2011 that it had hired a contractor to begin the bridge removal process by March. After the contractor failed to perform, however, CSX did not move forward with its commitment and has not provided the mayor and other officials with a clear timeline for removal since last meeting with local stakeholders in August. Therefore, CSX has acknowledged the need for these bridge removals in the past, and should not delay the project.
Schumer today called on CSX to reverse this course and take responsibility for removing the three railroad bridges in a safe and timely manner. With these eyesore bottlenecks out of the way, Spencerport and the Town of Ogden will be unencumbered to continue their revitalization efforts now taking place throughout these communities while ensuring ease of access for commuters and first responder services.
A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter appears below:
Dear Mr. Ward,
I request CSX's immediate attention to address the removal of three abandoned and unsafe railroad bridges in the Town of Ogden and Village of Spencerport which have been left to deteriorate for more than a quarter century. These rusted graffiti-laden bridges are not only an aesthetic blight, but are a safety hazard to motorists and restrict traffic in Spencerport's main business district.
The bridges which cross over Washington Street and Manitou Road in the Town of Ogden and South Union Street in the Village of Spencerport were removed from service in 1982 and with the exception of removing the tracks in the early 1990s little if any maintenance has been performed on the bridges. Local officials are particularly concerned about the Spencerport bridge citing an engineer's visual inspection that concluded the bridge's drainage system no longer functions and its main column foundation is deteriorating with fractured concrete and rusted column supports. Moreover, due to the bridge's low clearance, tractor trailer trucks commonly strike and get stuck under the bridge which further weakens the bridge and causes traffic to backup and detour along Spencerport's main thoroughfare. Just within the past 60 days alone, two more trucks became logged under the bridge, with one reportedly taking police and local officials five hours to remove. When this occurs, commuters, village merchants, and shoppers cannot reach their destinations while residents are put at risk as fire and ambulance services located south of the bridge cannot respond expeditiously to emergencies.
Spencerport and Ogden have long petitioned CSX to remove these bridges and I understand Monroe County supports this position and is relinquishing any preferential right to lease the right-of-way, thereby removing any impediment to CSX removing the bridges. While I appreciate that CSX hired a contractor last year to remove the bridges starting in the first quarter of this year, that contractor failed to perform and in the intervening months the bridges have continued to deteriorate without renewed assurances that the work will be performed.
Again, I ask that CSX immediately prioritize the removal of these unsafe structures and provide local officials in Spencerport and Ogden with a firm timetable to ensure the work is performed without unnecessary delay and with minimal disruption to residents, first responders and business owners.