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Norfolk Town Council wants CSX to fix rough railroad crossing

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NORFOLK - Norfolk Town Supervisor Charlie A. Pernice is disappointed with the rail-freight operator CSX Corp. for failing to address a problematic railroad crossing on Adams Road.

The crossing is set several inches below the road, and could cause damage to a vehicle if one drives over the crossing at speeds in excess of 30 miles per hour, he suggested. The crossing is also set at the base of a hill, which can make braking difficult when the road is slick with snow, ice or rain water.

“CSX promised me they’d do something about that crossing. That (crossing is ridiculous); you almost have to come to a complete stop,” the Norfolk towen supervisor said.

Mr. Pernice said he’s been pressuring CSX officials since he took office in 2010, but the company has yet to address the rough crossing. Mr. Pernice said he plans to “crank up the pressure” on CSX officials to address the crossing.

He noted the company pleged to spend more than $100 million in improvements to its operations across the region, including $14 million to expand its Massena site, and he would like the company to spend a fraction of that amount to address an issue with its tracks going through Norfolk.

Mr. Pernice said rail-road work-crew are often responsible for thousands of railroad crossing, but he believes this crossing is particularly problematic, which warrants some kind of action. “That crossing is the worst one in this area,” he said.

A CSX spokesman did not return a call for comment.

Town council members agreed with Mr. Pernice, saying the crossing is a hazard that needs to be addressed.

“We’ve asked CSX nicely enough” to fix the crossing, Councilman Robert J. Harvey said. “Someone’s going to get hurt.”

Councilman Kevin Enslow said he has a nephew who drove a pickup truck over the crossing at about 55 miles per hour and ripped the manifold off the engine. Other residents and board members related stories of friends, relatives and acquaintances who caused significant damage to their vehicle by driving too fast over the crossing.

“A few people have bottomed out and taken the oil pump off their engine,” Mr. Harvey said.

The town councilman noted someone from out of town could easily not notice the state of the crossing there, drive over it too fast and potentially cause damage to their vehicle.

CSX work crews did some work at the site in 2011, but failed to address the problem facing motorists on Adams Road, according to Mr. Pernice and Mr. Harvey.

“Basically we’ve contacted CSX numerous times (about the crossing), and we’ve gotten nowhere,” Mr. Harvey said. “If you were going 40 miles per hour (over the crossing), you’d wreck your vehicle.”

The town’s Highway Department is not permitted to address crossing because the railroad is protected under federal regulations.

“There’s a certain distance before and after the railroad that we don’t mess with,” Mr. Pernice said.

Mr. Pernice believes residents are fed up with the crossing, but have given up hope that CSX will ever address it. “I use that road and it’s ridiculous that it’s so bad,” he said. “It seems like people out there have given up on it (being addressed), but I’m not giving up on it.”

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