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Massena rail work at Route 420 approaching; traffic tie-ups possible

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MASSENA - Upgrades to the CSX rail crossing at state Route 420 are something the village hasn’t experienced in years.

And the potential closure of Route 420, also known as South Main Street in the village and one of Massena’s busiest streets, for the upcoming work has village officials searching for options that would have the least impact on motorists.

Officials are hopeful CSX and state Department of Transportation officials will minimize any traffic disruptions the upgrades near the Massena Industrial Park might cause.

CSX spokesman Robert T. Sullivan said the rail company will replace the existing crossing.

“The advantage will be a much smoother crossing,” he said. “It will improve the condition of the crossing for motorists.”

Mayor James F. Hidy said CSX officials had told him the repairs will occur over four days to one week in either July or August.

“They’re in the process of repairing the tracks where they meet the surface of the roadway,” Mr. Hidy said. “Obviously, they’re going to have to close that portion to work on it.”

Officials are still determining how to best reroute traffic around the work. The crossing is near one of Massena’s only bridges across the Raquette River. One option is totally shutting down traffic and rerouting motorists nearly six miles downstream to the bridge at Route 37C.

Mr. Hidy was not in support of that option. He said rerouting traffic and shutting down the bridge could “wreak havoc” with out-of-town visitors and emergency personnel.

“That’s a well-traveled highway,” Mr. Hidy said. “We’re obviously going to have to put our heads together and come up with a better alternative.”

DOT spokesman Michael Flick said another option is creating a bypass immediately adjacent to 420, which motorists could utilize. The DOT’s engineering staff is currently determining that option’s feasibility, he said.

Police Chief Timmy J. Currier has also been involved in the discussions with DOT and CSX.

“No decisions have been made as we are working toward a solution that provides public safety, ensures adequate emergency response, produces minimal impact to those that travel in that area, while balancing the need to enable repairs to be made to the crossing,” Mr. Currier said in an email.

Department of Public Works Superintendent Hassan A. Fayad said these were the first rail crossing upgrades at that location he could remember in his 21-year career with the village. Mr. Hidy said he remembered a similar project in the 1980s.

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