Ritchie, Canton & CSX Meet About Train Speed

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State Senator Patty Ritchie says she's working with Canton and CSX officials over the rail company's controversial plan to increase train speeds on tracks that run through the small village.

Ritchie (R. 48th District) organized the meeting at the request of Village Trustee Mary Ann Ashley.

The senator and trustee attended the meeting along with village Mayor David Curry, town Councilman Paul Backus, village attorney Gerald Ducharme and CSX officials Maurice O'Connell, regional vice president, and Community Affairs Safety Officer Robert Rohauer.

"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 that town residents, college students and visitors would be safe in view of faster trains," Ritchie said in a news release.

CSX has been investing in track and grade crossing upgrades all along its route through St. Lawrence County to Montreal in order to allow increased train speeds up to 40 miles per hour in most areas.

The officials said trains will still be limited to lower speeds at certain spots, including two areas of curved track near Canton.

Railroad speeds are largely overseen by the federal government, but railroad officials said they would work with police, local fire officials, schools, colleges and the village to improve public safety near their tracks through a public awareness safety campaign, assist local first responders with training, and to identify other ways to help.

Ritchie has already contacted the area's federal representatives and the U.S. Federal Railroad Administration to make them aware of the local villagers' concerns.

The senator said she would continue to research whether additional steps can be taken on the state level.

Senator Ritchie's letter

Monday, September 22, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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