Railroaded! Yes, I feel that the residents of Selkirk have been railroaded by the Town Board.
A meeting was held on Jan. 29 at the Selkirk Fire Department with members of the Town Board, town engineer, CSX reps and approximately 75 concerned citizens.
One of the topics discussed was the final phase three of the sidewalk project on Rt. 396 (which consists of approx 2,000 feet of sidewalk). This project was approved in its entirety by the Town Board years ago. All engineering work has already been done and paid for and project is shovel ready.
We were told that the remaining section of sidewalk from the fire department going across CSX track up to Pausley Court would now cost $700,000 - cost for the sidewalk $200,000 and $500,000 for a newly mandated automated pedestrian gate by the RR crossing.
This pedestrian sidewalk gate was mandated due to a potential "liability issue." Note however that this automated gate was not mandated by the Federal or State Governments or even CSX - but in fact mandated by the town attorney and the board.
For those not familiar with this RR crossing - the CSX freight trains using this one-track line are mandated by Federal law to cross this intersection at the rate of 10 mph. Also mandated by law are two very loud, long whistles followed by a short whistle well before the train approaches the intersection. Already installed are the RR crossing vehicle gates with the usual red flashing lights and bells; as anyone can attest stopped at this intersection waiting for the train to crawl through. The town attorney and the board feel that this is not enough warning to prevent someone from dashing in front of this train and has mandated this automated pedestrian gate.
I wanted to find out how other communities have handled this issue and decided to look at a new Internet research program called Google. Low and behold after 5 minutes of intensive research I discovered that Portland Oregon's light rail commuter system has already solved a similar dilemma. This system carries 125,000 passengers on weekdays and travels at the average rate of 19 mph (twice ours). Their solution was to install at their pedestrian railroad crossings a large metal sign reading....'Train - Look Both Ways'.... at a couple of other major crossings signs along with manual self-closing pedestrian gates were installed.