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Norfolk Town Council wants CSX to fix rough railroad crossing

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NORFOLK — Norfolk Town Supervisor Charles 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 driven over the crossing at speeds in excess of 30 mph, he said.

It is also set at the base of a hill, which can make braking difficult when the road is slick with snow, ice or rain.

“CSX promised me they’d do something about that crossing,” Mr. Pernice 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. He said he plans to “crank up the pressure” on CSX officials to address the problem.

He added the company pledged 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 railroad work crews are often responsible for thousands of railroad crossings, but he believes this crossing is particularly problematic and warrants some kind of action.

“That crossing is the worst one in this area,” he said.

A CSX spokesman did not return a call.

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, said Councilman Robert J. Harvey. “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 mph 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 vehicles by driving too fast over the crossing.

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

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 and we’ve gotten nowhere,” Mr. Harvey said. “If you were going 40 miles per hour, you’d wreck your vehicle.”

The town’s Highway Department is not permitted to work on the 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 said he believes residents are fed up with the crossing but have given up hope 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, but I’m not giving up on it.”

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