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Public safety and public access along the rails

January 22, 2019 10:06 pm

Amtrak had a choice about installing fencing along the Hudson River in several communities in Columbia and Dutchess counties. The company could have chosen wisely or it could have chosen poorly.

Amtrak chose wisely.

The company withdrew its application for fencing to allow time for revisions, Amtrak officials said Friday. The original proposal called for 8,000 feet of fence along the Amtrak passenger line that runs from Albany to New York City and carries commuters daily from the Twin Counties.

Had this plan been approved, several towns along the Hudson River might have been cut off from their own waterfronts. And that was unacceptable to residents and public officials.

The decision to withdraw the proposal was made jointly by Amtrak, the state Department of Transportation and the state Department of State. Amtrak’s original plan will be revised in conjunction with a five-year-corridor plan to improve safety along the company’s Empire Service Hudson Line.

We’re glad to hear that Amtrak plans to work with the affected communities, town officials and state agencies to develop the revised plan after residents took exception to what they perceived as a lack of transparency on the part of Amtrak.

Amtrak wants a safe railway for passengers, employees and the surrounding communities, and we can’t fault them for that. But putting up a barrier between communities that count the Hudson River as an asset and their economically critical waterfronts is not the answer.

We urge officials to assist Amtrak with a new proposal, but they must make sure Amtrak gives the same priority to public access as the company does with public safety.