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Rail News: Safety

Schumer calls for probe of Blue Point Rail Bridge

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)
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[Editor's note: This story has been updated with a comment from CSX.]

Citing concerns about the safety of a CSX rail bridge located just south of Blue Point in Ulster County, New York, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) called on the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to conduct an independent safety inspection of the structure.

The Blue Point Railroad Bridge — which was temporarily reinforced last year and is being monitored by CSX — is still "jury-rigged," which residents and stakeholders believe poses potential safety and environmental risks, Schumer said in a news release.

"A jury-rigged bridge is hardly a long-term solution to securing the safety of the CSX freight rail at the Blue Point Railroad Bridge," he said. "Ulster County and the surrounding communities are on board for an independent safety review from the feds, which should grease the skids in the interest of the health and safety of the entire region."

Safety has been an issue on the CSX line before, Schumer said. In March 2017, a CSX train derailed in Newburgh while transporting hazardous materials, including sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide. 

This time, the safety threat is higher because of the Blue Point Bridge’s proximity to Hudson River drinking water intakes, which serve more than 106,000 residents in Ulster and Dutchess counties, Schumer said.

CSX offered the following response to Schumer's concerns: "At CSX, safety is our highest priority. Bridge infrastructure across our network is regularly inspected and maintained in accordance with CSX policies, which meet or exceed federal regulations. We moved quickly to ensure a fix was put in place to provide structural support for the bridge after conducting a routine CSX inspection last year. We had also already accelerated permanent repairs, which are planned to take place by year’s end."