Fonda ‘railroaded’ in train crossing issue: official

FONDA – Village officials unhappily passed a resolution Wednesday to comply with the state Department of Transportation’s plan to change the Broadway railroad crossing to allow only one-way traffic.

“This is a very one-way transaction,” Mayor Bill Peeler said at a public meeting Wednesday.

Peeler, the Board of Trustees and residents of Montgomery County at the meeting said they are not happy about the DOT’s decision.

A DOT order was finalized by Chief Administrative Law Judge Robert Rybak on Aug. 15. The order stated the CSX railroad crossing on Broadway will be closed to northbound traffic and the crossing at Center Street will be completely closed to vehicle traffic but open to pedestrians.

CSX requested DOT close the village crossings in 2011, claiming the crossings are dangerous and few vehicles use them. The request to close the crossings was met with opposition from village residents and many officials in Montgomery County.

Bill Holvig, highway superintendent for the town of Mohawk, said the village is being “railroaded.”

“I adamantly oppose the closure of one lane,” Holvig said. “Village residents, county annex building workers, county DPW workers along with the town of Mohawk are already in distress when we get a flood. This crossing is the high spot when we flood. We have yet to see the bathtub effect of raising Route 30A at Park Street when there’s a flood. Without a light at Park Street and Route 30A, the traffic to get out onto 30A, at certain times of the day, would be horrendous. Service to our village and town residents will be delayed regarding snow and ice removal..”

Peeler proposed a resolution to the board to comply with the DOT’s wishes to have traffic be one-way.

“Traffic will be one-way on a normal, routine day in the southbound direction as previously stated,” Peeler said. “Also, we’re including [in the resolution] that we do not recognize the state DOT’s authority to supercede the executive law and finally we do not authorize and, in fact, we warn DOT not to remove any pavement without prior approval from the village of Fonda Board of Trustees.”

Peeler said the state has plans to remove the paving closest to the railroad crossing, and a judge declared the mayor or deputy mayor, who under executive law have the power to declare a state of emergency, do not have the power to do so.

Trustee Lynn Dumar seconded the resolution. Walter “Wally” Boyd voted no. Peeler and Tim Healey voted yes. Deputy Mayor Bob Galusha was absent from Wednesday’s meeting.

Peeler said he will meet with a judge May 22 for language clarification on the DOT order and to comply to the department’s plans