Cuomo sends letter to CSX threatening legal action over Whitesboro bridge

Governor Andrew Cuomo has released a formal letter to CSX threatening legal action if they don't rebuild the Whitesboro railroad bridge over the Sauquoit Creek.

Posted: Jan 28, 2019 3:48 PM
Updated: Jan 28, 2019 4:37 PM

WHITESBORO, N.Y. -- Governor Andrew Cuomo has released a formal letter to CSX threatening legal action if they don't rebuild the Whitesboro railroad bridge over the Sauquoit Creek. 

Flooding is reoccurent year after year in the area. Last week an ice jam prevented water to flow under the bridge, so area streets were flooded and several homes were evacuated. 

The governor announced at a press conference in Whitesboro that he would sue the company if they don't do something to fix the issue, blaming the bridge for the frequent flooding problems.

Oneida County Excecutive Anthony Picente released a statement in agreement with the letter saying: 

“I completely agree with Gov. Cuomo’s action to directly deal with CSX and his call for the company to handle its obligation to the Village of Whitesboro, and I fully support pursuing legal action in order to force compliance. For far too long our pleas for CSX to fix its bridge have fallen on deaf ears and the residents and businesses of Whitesboro have been made to suffer. Oneida County has stepped forward in the past with funding to help assist these flooding victims, and continues to work with the Village of Whitesboro, Town of Whitestown and the State of New York to mitigate these issues, but we can only do so much. Time and time again, the flooding caused by this bridge’s faulty design has taken a mental, physical and financial toll on our community. I would appreciate a responsible, constructive and immediate response from CSX to the Governor’s letter.”

The full text of the letter reads:

"James M. Foote, President & CEO
CSX Corporate Headquarters
500 Water Street, 15th Floor
Jacksonville, FL 32202

Dear Mr. Foote:

I write to put CSX on notice that the State intends to pursue legal action against CSX for its failure to rebuild its railroad bridge located in the Village of Whitesboro, County of Oneida, crossing the Sauquoit Creek. CSX's acts and omissions have resulted in a public health and safety hazard caused by conditions on your property, including a faulty bridge design. These conditions have resulted in flooding and property damage, constituting a nuisance that needs to be immediately remedied in order to protect the public's health and safety, as detailed below.

The issues with this bridge are not new. Flooding is a common occurrence at this location due to faulty bridge design that results in debris and ice buildup creating an ongoing and significant public health and safety hazard for the local community including, but not limited to, homes and businesses on or near Ellmore Drive, Ellis Avenue, Ablett Avenue and Sauquoit Street and the County-owned sewer pump station. Allowing this hazard to remain on the property results in constant safety risk to New York's residents, damage to homes and properties, cost to property owners whose properties are damaged or destroyed and cost to the state, county, town and village, all of whom continue to respond to ice and debris build up at this location.

To date, the State and respective localities have committed millions in taxpayer dollars to actively monitor the bridge, and develop, construct, and implement remediation measures due to the ongoing failure of CSX to replace the aforementioned bridge.

The State and respective localities have discussed this issue on numerous occasions with CSX, and CSX has knowledge of the hazard this bridge creates. To date, however, CSX has not confirmed that it will replace this bridge. The chronic nature of the problem makes clear, however, that piecemeal actions will not suffice. The bridge must be replaced. Failure to do so establishes a lack of due care by CSX and any further delay will constitute, at best, reckless and, at worst, intentional misconduct by CSX that will result in continued injury to the state, localities and property owners.

This letter supersedes any prior discussions about, or proposals regarding, the underlying facts and circumstances related to this situation. We further instruct you to preserve all documents and information, including emails and electronic documents, relating to this matter. If you have any questions regarding this matter, please contact my Chief Counsel, Alphonso David at 212-681-7753.

Sincerely,

Andrew M. Cuomo

cc: Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente
United States Senator Charles Schumer
United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
New York State Senator Joseph Griffo
New York State Assemblywomen Marianne Buttenschon
Department of Transportation Commissioner Paul Karas"

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