*This article was first published in print in the Thursday, Dec. 16 edition of the Saratoga Spotlight.
Canadian Pacific Railway sent a letter Oct. 29 to the Town of Ballston stating it wanted to close three railroad crossings in the town at Connolly Road, Saunders Lane and White Beach Road, all private roads.
The crossings have passive warning devices and four Amtrak passenger trains and 16 freight trains pass over the crossing daily at speeds up to 60 miles per hour, according to information from CP. The rail company said it plans to operate an additional four freight trains per day on the line in the near future and that the crossings are located in the State's proposed high speed rail corridor, where future Amtrak trains could reach speeds of 79 miles per hour.
CP said it "unsuccessfully sought to engage in meaningful discussions with homeowners regarding the safety, use and maintenance of the crossings" and that in the absence of a private crossing agreement that residents have "refused to negotiate," the railway believes it has the right to close the crossings.
Many residents like longtime homeowner Herb Jackson, though, are crying fowl. Jackson has lived on White Beach Road for some 40 years and can still remember riding the school bus down the previously unpaved road. He insists residents have been the ones trying to negotiate and voice safety concerns and says CP has not stepped up.
"The railroad is hollering about safety and they're so worried about it, but they go through there quite frequently and don't even blow the horn which they're supposed to use as warning device by law," said Jackson. "We've spent thousands of dollars to put signage up to protect people from the crossing; the railroad has done nothing to make it safe down here, only put up cross arms signage back in the '20s or '30s."