GERMANTOWN — The state has extended the public comment period on the proposed 8,000 feet of fencing along the Amtrak railway in Columbia and Dutchess counties.
The state Department of State’s Office of Planning, Development and Community Infrastructure is reviewing a proposal from Amtrak to install approximately 8,600 feet of fencing and gates along sections of the railway between Rhinebeck and Stuyvesant.
The public comment period was set to expire on March 29 but was extended on Monday to May 1.
“The agency determined that more time was necessary in order to gauge public comment on the proposal,” according to an emailed statement from the state Department of State on Tuesday.
“As we continue our review, we welcome the input of local officials and the public throughout the duration of the public comment period,” according to the department.
Amtrak has cited safety concerns as the reason for the fencing. The fencing will not block access on public roads, but will keep pedestrians and vehicles safe, according to Amtrak.
“The purpose of the project is to keep pedestrians and vehicles out of harm’s way,” according to a proposal submitted to the Office of Planning and Development by Amtrak.
“The fencing will also reduce access to the Hudson River in areas that are not for public access,” according to the proposal. “Crossing and access to the river still will be available.”
Passing trains can reach speeds of 90 mph along that stretch, according to Amtrak’s proposal.
“The purpose of establishing an impasse fence where it does not currently exist is to keep trespassers and vehicle traffic off the Amtrak Right of Way,” according to the railway. “This project will deter a train collision with either a vehicle or human being and promote the well-being of the general public by restricting pedestrian and vehicular traffic along the Amtrak Right of Way.”
Five Columbia County town supervisors last week called for suspension of the state’s public comment period, so that public meetings could be held in each community.
Comments about the proposal can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to New York State Department of State, Office of Planning, Development and Community Infrastructure, One Commerce Plaza, 99 Washington Ave., Albany, N.Y. 12231.