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NY Officials Investigating Wednesday Derailment

Schenectady County is in red

A freight train derailed early Wednesday morning in Schenectady County, impacting area traffic for most of the day.

New York State Department of Transportation officials are investigating the derailment in Rotterdam Junction that was reported just before 4 a.m. Wednesday.

DOT says in a statement that a crossing at Route 5S and Main Street was closed throughout the day before being reopened around 4:20 that afternoon.

Nobody was injured in the accident near the SI Group chemical plant.

Company spokeswoman Kate Chauvin…

“Six rail cars were involved in the derailment yesterday, all empty. So the derailment took place outside of SI Group’s owned property, and we’ve been committed to working with the local transportation authorities on any repairs that are necessary. But from our perspective it was more of a traffic issue than anything safety-related or affecting the daily operations at our site,” said Chauvin.

On Wednesday, traffic was rerouted from the affected portion of Route 5S across the Mohawk River to Route 5 in the Town of Glenville.

After the derailment in Rotterdam Junction, Glenville town supervisor Chris Koetzle, a Republican, said rail safety was on his mind. In February 2013, 11 freight cars derailed on tracks along Route 5.

“We do have a lot of rail that goes through Glenville and we want to ensure that there is enough attention placed on rail safety,” said Koetzle.

As the nation debates infrastructure spending, Congressman Paul Tonko, a Democrat from New York’s 20th House District, told WAMC this week on the Congressional Corner program, that any plan approved in Washington needs to include rail upgrades. 

“If you’re going to do a once-in-a-generation infrastructure package, it should be inclusive so as to include our drinking water infrastructure, wastewater infrastructure, grid modernization, broadband expansion…rail investments, along with roads and bridge.”

Tonko was critical of the $200 billion infrastructure plan touted by Republican President Donald Trump. The White House is pushing the proposal as a way to spur up to $1.5 trillion in investments through the assistance of private sources.

Last week, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer introduced a $1 trillion infrastructure bill that the New York Democrat said would set aside funding for smaller and local projects.

“There’d be enough, given what we’ve proposed, that lots of projects would be chosen. It wouldn’t be a one in 20 chance. If you have a good project, you’d have a very strong chance of getting dollars,” said Schumer.

Schumer says his plan would be funded by restoring some of the tax cuts championed by congressional Republicans and signed into law in December.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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