At-grade rail crossing in Kingston (file)
TOWN OF ULSTER – US Senator Charles Schumer visited Ulster County Monday, demanding that CSX stop idling its freight trains in the Kingston area for long periods of time. The practice blocks traffic and hinders first responders, Schumer said.
“The tracks are utilized by freight companies to transport goods, and that’s a good thing, transportation is very important,” but he said it is not good when freight cars sit idling in neighborhoods disrupting daily life, interfering with emergency services and polluting the air.
Schumer’s media event took place on Old Neighborhood Road, a dead-end behind Staples plaza in the Town of Ulster. Residences and businesses on the far side of the right-of-way get cut off with no way out. “The matter is plain and simple. Whatever side you live on, when there’s a freight car idling for hours near your home, you’re on the wrong side of the tracks,” Schumer said.
Schumer recalled an incident 14 years ago.
In 2003 a CSX train stopped blocking all six of Kingston’s crossings so a crew member could go to Dunkin Donuts. I like Dunkin Donuts, particularly the maple donuts when they have them, but that’s crazy,” he said. “There is no reason why CSX can’t find an area of the tracks to park these cars.”
Schumer called on CSX, the local freight line operator, to be a good neighbor and voluntarily find a solution. “If they don’t act quickly, I’m going to ask the Federal Railroad Administration to consider investigating the train idling regulations, to make sure there’s compliance,” he said.
The senator said he is “using the clout I have been given in Washington, to help them clear up this mess. “I’m telling CSX, you’ve gotta get a move on,” Schumer said. “Figure out a solution, and be more considerate of the communities they’re rolling through.”
Ulster County Executive Michael Hein agreed. He said the problem has caused holes to be cut in fences, as neighbors take risks to find ways around the blocked grade crossings. “When trains are stopped, people are trying to get to work, and climbing through the trains,” Hein said.