CSX Railway, Town of Macedon and State DOT think dangerous
crossing should be closed, but…
It happened again at the very dangerous railway crossing on Quaker Road in the Town of Macedon. This time on Sunday (6/1) at approximately 4 a.m., Timothy Stahowiak, age 23, of Skaneateles NY, was driving with three friends in his vehicle back to Skaneateles from the Gananda area, using his aftermarket GPS system.
Stahowiak was traveling northwest on Quaker Road and approached the rail road crossing. He claimed that his GPS system told him to “bear right” at which time he turned his wheel to the right as directed.
His vehicle’s passenger-side tires left the paved roadway and drove onto the train tracks where the vehicle became stuck. Stahowiak put his hazard lights on the vehicle and attempted to seek help at nearby residences – to no avail. When hearing a train approach , he used the light from his cell phone in an attempt to waive at the train and notify the engineers of the vehicle on the tracks. The engineers, seeing the vehicle and cell phone light, immediately applied the emergency brakes in effort to slow the train. The train struck the unoccupied vehicle travelling at approximately 56 miles per hour, dragging it 153 feet east of the impact location.
The train was able to come to a complete stop approximately a half mile east of the impact location. No tickets were issued to Stahowiak.
The railroad crossing is no stranger to vehicle crunches. Town officials and police indicated that the crossing has been the scene of a number of similar accidents over the years, especially since the closing of the Canandaigua Road Bridge near the intersection of Quaker and Canandaigua Roads.
Due to the sheer number of accidents at that railroad crossing, Macedon Town Engineer Scott Allen stated that the Town of Macedon, CSX Railroad Freight Company and State DOT (Department of Transportation) would all prefer that the road be shut down to traffic at the crossing in both directions. Allen explained that the problem with the road is where it intersects with the railroad tracks from the east. The steep angle of the road coming from the east includes a bad skew up to the railroad tracks.
Many drivers, such as Stahowiak, are unfamiliar with the crossing, and get their vehicle wheels stuck at the crossing. So far, there have been a few close calls, but no deaths. Even local drivers dread the approach, unable to see any approaching trains in either direction.
Quaker Road and the nearby Canandaigua Bridge over the Erie Canal were the main routes for travelers until the Bridge was shut down four years ago by the DOT, as unsafe for vehicle traffic due to corrosion and structural deficiencies. Since then, travelers have had to reroute using Wayneport Road and Route 350 as the main roads heading mostly north to the Route 31 east/west county and shopping access.
NYS DOT Public Relations Specialist Laurie Mahar, stated that the estimate to fix the bridge is 5 million dollars. She explained that the plan is to reconstruct the bridge from the current one-lane to a modern two-lane bridge. She also stated that the bid for the bridge will take place in the spring of 2015, and the construction will begin sometime that summer.
Until the bridge is reopened, not much can be done about Quaker Road shared Mahar. “We can’t pursue the process of closing Quaker Road until the final designs, approval of the bridge and construction is completed,” she stated. Mahar reported that once the final design phase is complete, the final milestone is to share the incentive to close Quaker Road with the railroad company to determine what to do, how to go about it, and when.
According to Macedon Town Supervisor Bill Hammond, there have been proposals to close Quaker Road, but the Town flatly refuses to consider cutting the east part of Quaker from the west until the Canandaigua Road Bridge is reopened. Mahar stated that if Quaker Road closes, it will become two dead-end roads..
Marr shared the reason for the bridge reopening being pushed back for four years. It’s simply due to lack of federal and state money.
As explained by Hammond, the road can’t be completely shut down because of the railroad tracks, and the need for a turn around for plows in the winter. He hasn’t personally received any complaints by residents, but he has heard that residents who travel on Quaker Road are concerned with the possibility of its closing, with it being currently one of the main routes for the community.
According to Allen, there isn’t much that can be done to fix the railroad intersection on Quaker Road.
“I would prefer if it wasn’t closed, but I understand the concern with why people want it closed,” said Allen.
by Jessica Colon