‘Risky’ Hudson Valley Bridge Endangers Over 100,000 in New York
Top officials are sounding the "alarm" about a "risky" Hudson River bridge that's held up by a few wooden sticks and could endanger over 100,000 residents.
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U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer is sounding the alarm on a potentially risky bridge with the Hudson Valley.
Citing concerns about the safety of the CSX Rail Bridge located just south of Blue Point between Highland and Milton in Ulster County, New York, Schumer called on the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to conduct an independent safety inspection of the Blue Point Railroad Bridge located on the CSX freight line.
"With countless businesses and homes endangered and over 100,000 Hudson Valley residents relying on the Hudson for drinking water, Schumer demand an immediate and independent investigation," Schumer's office stated in a press release.
The bridge – which was temporarily reinforced last year and is being actively monitored by CSX – is still jury-rigged and has local residents and stakeholders concerned about the potential safety and environmental concerns it poses.
Schumer noted that a spill or derailment along the freight line could have disastrous public health, environmental, and safety implications for the Hudson Valley region.
“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,” Schumer stated. “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 and bring peace of mind to Hudson Valley residents on both sides of the Hudson.”
Riverkeeper released photos of the bridge last month that shows wooden sticks bolted together. Riverkeeper believes the steel beams have sagged on the north end of the bridge
"Riverkeeper continues to be extremely concerned about the structural integrity of this failing rail bridge. Is it still strong enough to support the mile-long freight trains it carries daily? Has the margin of safety been lost? And are the repeated vibrations and shocks of daily train traffic continuing to weaken the bridge and compromise even the temporary repairs? For months, Riverkeeper has called for an immediate and independent inspection," Riverkeeper Vice President John Lipscomb said.
This specific CSX line is no stranger to terrifying incidents, according to Schumer's office. In March 2017, a CSX freight train derailed in the City of Newburgh while transporting hazardous chemical materials including sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide.
CSX freight trains carry a variety of different products, including petroleum and liquid chemicals, meaning if a train containing hazardous materials were to derail as a result of an unsafe bridge, the safety of the entire Hudson Valley region could be compromised.
During the March 2017 incident, Schumer said that 4,600 gallons of diesel fuel were spilled in close proximity to the Hudson River and four people were injured. Schumer explained that this situation could have been disastrous had any of the hazardous chemical materials spilled out of the railcars.
Check out must-see photos of the Newburgh train derailment below:
Pointing to the deteriorating condition of the Blue Point Rail Bridge, Schumer said action must be taken now by the FRA.
Schumer also noted that the threat is especially heightened because of the Blue Point Bridge’s proximity to Hudson River drinking water intakes, which serve over 106,000 residents in seven Hudson Valley communities in Ulster and Dutchess counties, including the Town of Esopus, Town of Hyde Park, Town of Lloyd, Town and City of Poughkeepsie, and the Town and Village of Rhinebeck.
Senator Schumer’s letter to FRA appears below: