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School detours bus routes due to rail closure

Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - Updated: 4:08 AM

By HEATHER NELLIS

Recorder News Staff

TOWN OF MOHAWK -- Fonda-Fultonville Central School District officials say they're working to address bussing issues caused by the Route 5 closure at the double-train derailment site.

"Time to break out some old plans," said Jim Lathers, transportation coordinator for the district. "We've been in the same situation before under different circumstances. We had to do the same thing when Route 5 flooded a couple years ago."

Lathers said it won't be a problem for the buses to use Martin Road and Hickory Hill Road along the detour, but the issue lays in picking up the handful of youngsters who live within the two points of the closed roadway.

Lathers and interim Superintendent Ray Colucciello said they're awaiting information from CSX Transportation Inc. and the state Department of Transportation relating to the highway's reconstruction.

DOT Spokesman James Piccola said there's a chance the roadway may be opened to one-lane alternating traffic controlled by a light, but CSX, which is funding the repairs, is reportedly waiting to hear from its contractor.

"We're doing everything we can to get it open for school," Piccola said.

School starts September 5, and Lathers thinks that's enough time to get the district's plans straightened.

"We have plans either way," said Colucciello. "Whether it's one way or no way."

Lathers says there's just one bus run that's impacted.

"In the big picture, we cover so many miles a day, so for one section, we can make an adjustment," he said. "I don't want to make it sound like it's no big deal, because it is. When we set up the runs at the beginning of the year, we like to see that it stays that way. When we have to change it, it can make it difficult to get everyone on the same page."

If Route 5 is opened to one-way traffic, "it will be business as usual," Lathers said. "We may just have to start out a little earlier if traffic is only open one lane at a time. If not, we'll pull out the old plan and make it work."

"Even if we can't get down there initially, it sounds like it's going to be short-term, and that they'll get it done in a reasonable amount of time," Lathers said. "We're just rolling with the punches."

CSX Transportation Inc. is seeking a contract for the Route 5 reconstruction project in connection with the two-train derailment. Passing east- and west-bound trains clipped one another and crashed on the CSX railroad just west of Fonda at roughly 8 a.m. on June 27.

Montgomery County Department of Public Works Commissioner Paul Clayburn said CSX will also contract to repair Martin Road from Route 5 to Hickory Hill Road.

Piccola said the regional office drew specifications for 3,100 feet of Route 5 that has to be reconstructed. Two weeks ago, DOT handed the plans off to CSX, which will fund the repairs.

Three lead engines slammed into a ditch off Route 5, and nearly 50 cars from both freight trains derailed in the crash, including a car that ended up stretched onto the highway.

     

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