02.19.15

IN LIGHT OF RECENT ELECTROCUTION OF HIKER ON FDR ESTATE, SCHUMER CALLS ON AMTRAK TO AUDIT ALL OF ITS POWER LINES IN DUTCHESS COUNTY & ENSURE THEY ARE NOT PUTTING LIVES AT RISK – AMTRAK TRAINS RUN ALONGSIDE MANY PARKS & HIKING TRAILS IN DUTCHESS COUNTY

Amtrak Must Make Sure Power Lines Are High Enough Off The Ground & Properly Marked To Avoid Future Tragedy – Amtrak Has Close To 50 Miles Worth Of Track In Dutchess County, Many Of Which Run Alongside Parks & Trails Frequented By Dutchess Residents

Schumer Says Amtrak Must Do Everything It Can To Ensure A Similar Tragedy Does Not Occur Again – Proposes Amtrak Conduct Review of All of Its Power Lines & Ensure Proper Protections Are In Place; If Lines Are Hanging Too Close to The Ground, They Should Be Raised

 

Schumer: Dutchess County Residents Should Not Have To Worry About Being Electrocuted By Power Lines In Their Own Backyard

 

Today, at the Poughkeepsie Amtrak Station, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer urged Amtrak to conduct an audit of all of its power lines in Dutchess County to ensure they are safe and not putting local residents at risk. Schumer’s call comes on the heels of an incident last month where a hiker was electrocuted at the FDR Estate in Hyde Park after coming into contact with low-hanging electrical wires owned by Amtrak. Schumer said that Amtrak’s rails and power lines run alongside many parks, hiking trails and recreation areas in Dutchess, and this tragedy demonstrates a need for Amtrak to review all of its power lines, ensure they do not endanger passersby, and that the proper protections are in place. Schumer said that if Amtrak finds certain power lines are too low, or signage pointing out the danger is not visible enough, then Amtrak should make the necessary changes. Schumer called on Amtrak to do everything in its power to ensure a similar tragedy does not occur again.

 

“The last thing you should ever have to worry about when you’re hiking and enjoying the great outdoors in the beautiful Hudson Valley is being electrocuted by low-hanging power lines. The tragic death of a Culinary Institute of America student just two weeks ago needs to serve as a wake-up call to Amtrak that they need to take a good, hard look at their infrastructure, particularly the electrical wires that run alongside railroad tracks and through the Dutchess County parks, hiking trails, and recreation areas that so many people love,” said Schumer.” That is why I am calling on Amtrak to conduct an audit of all of its power lines throughout Dutchess County and the region to ensure they are safe, far enough from the ground, and properly marked in case there is a potential danger. This tragic, untimely loss should not be in vain, and residents should never have to worry that they are putting their lives at risk by enjoying the beauty of their own backyards.”

 

Just two weeks ago, a student from the Culinary Institute of America was hiking with three friends when he was killed by an electrical shock upon coming into contact with a low-hanging wire owned by Amtrak on the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Park Service Estate property. According to local police, the incident occurred 200 feet from the Amtrak railroad tracks that run along the Hudson River and there were no warning signs posted near the utility wires to make passersby aware of any danger. Schumer said these Amtrak lines run alongside many parks, hiking trails, and recreation areas in Dutchess County and throughout the Hudson Valley. Schumer said that is why it is critical that Amtrak conduct an audit of all of its power lines in the region to ensure that they are safe and not putting any more local residents at risk.

 

Schumer said it is important that Amtrak inspect all of its power lines to ensure that hikers within the FDR Estate lands and well as other popular hiking areas are not at risk of coming into contact with high voltage low-hanging wires. Schumer said Amtrak has close to 50 miles worth of tracks in Dutchess County and much more throughout the Hudson Valley that run alongside numerous parks and tourist sites, including the Mills Memorial State Park in Staatsburg, Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site in Hyde Park, FDR Property in Hyde Park, Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, Marist College in Poughkeepsie, and Hudson Highland State Park in Fishkill. Schumer said the Amtrak trains run near the location of the new Hudson Highland Fjord Trail, which is set to break ground this spring. Schumer said with this new set of multi-use trails to be created to connect Cold Spring to Beacon, we cannot afford to have any more safety issues with low-hanging power lines when even more hikers could be visiting the area. 

 

Schumer is urging Amtrak to conduct an audit of all of its power lines to ensure proper protections are in place. If it is determined that certain power lines are too close to the ground, or that signage pointing out the danger is not visible enough, Schumer said Amtrak should raise them or provide additional, easily discernible signage to identify the potential danger. Schumer said Amtrak must learn from this tragedy and work to ensure that future hikers are not put at risk when hiking next to its railroad tracks.

 

Schumer was joined by NYS Assemblyman Frank Skartados.

 

“Our families, visitors and students' safety is a top concern. In the wake of this recent tragedy, an immediate audit by the responsible parties is essential to ensure individuals are aware when a potential danger exists. We must make sure that tragic accidents like this never happen again and take every precaution to ensure that no more lives are put at risk,” said NYS Assemblyman Frank Skartados.

 

A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter to the President and Chief Executive Officer of Amtrak appears below:

 

Dear Mr. Joseph Boardman:

 

In the wake of the recent tragedy in which a student was electrocuted by a low-hanging Amtrak wire, I write to urge Amtrak to conduct an audit of all of its power lines throughout the Hudson Valley to ensure that they are safe and not putting local residents at risk. If it is determined that certain power lines are too low, or that signage pointing out the danger is not visible enough, Amtrak should make the necessary changes to ensure that the wires are safe.

 

A couple of weeks ago, a Culinary Institute of America student was killed by an electrical shock when he came in contact with low-hanging wires owned by Amtrak while hiking on the Franklin D. Roosevelt estate property. The student was hiking with three other friends in a wooded area, off of a marked trail, on the federally-owned property. According to local police, there were no warning signs posted near the utility wires.

 

Amtrak’s rails and power lines run alongside many parks, hiking trails, and recreation areas in the Hudson Valley. To ensure that a similar tragedy does not happen again to one of the many hikers, cyclists, and others who enjoy these public spaces, Amtrak should review all of its power lines and ensure that proper protections are in place. If power lines are hanging too close to the ground, they should be raised, or additional, easily visible signage should be added to identify the danger. I urge Amtrak to begin its audit with the power lines where this tragedy occurred, located at the Franklin D. Roosevelt estate.

 

Thank you for your consideration of this important request.

 

Sincerely,

 

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator



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