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Freight trains will stop for cars

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Unlike a normal railroad grade crossing, at which cars must stop to let trains go by, the one proposed for the rail spur leading into the Calverton Enterprise Park would be just the opposite, the Riverhead, N.Y., Times Review reports. A freight train using the spur would come to a complete stop prior to crossing River Road, a conductor would get off and check for any cars, and would then signal the train to cross the street.

But state and federal
officials said a train-activated flashing light system also should be required
at such a crossing. The estimated cost of installing the lights was not
immediately available but officials have said a normal rail crossing, with
lights and gates, is expensive.

Riverhead Town, N.Y.,
received word that New York Governor David Paterson officially declared the
proposed Calverton rail spur qualified to receive $4.8-million from the
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the federal stimulus
bill. The town had previously received $650,000 in state grant money to begin
planning the spur restoration.

A hearing was held Nov.
18 at the Riverhead firehouse before Peter Loomis, an administrative law judge
for the state Department of Transportation, on the town’s proposal to
re-establish the River Road grade crossing.

The Calverton rail spur
hasn’t been used in more than 20 years. In its former life, it brought
materials into the Grumman fighter jet plant. The industrial development zone
there is now called the Calverton Enterprise Park, or EPCAL. The spur would
need to be reconnected to the Long Island Rail Road’s main line, officials
said.

The town is planning to
work with New York and Atlantic Railway, which handles freight on the Long
Island Rail Road. NYA president Paul Victor said they envision one train
movement per day in each direction to the EPCAL site. He said NYA has seven
crossings in Brooklyn and Queens at which trains stop before crossing a
roadway. The trains go no faster than 5 mph while approaching the crossing and
there is little chance of accident, Mr. Victor said.

"My opinion is that
there should be lights there and that visibility should be improved by clearing
vegetation on the north side of River Road," said Robert Cavaliero, a
regional rail coordinator for the DOT, at last Wednesday’s hearing. He said he
doesn’t believe crossing gates should be required. Lou Frangella, a crossing
and trespass manager for the Federal Railroad Administration, agreed with Cavaliero
that lights are needed at the crossing.

Town officials say the
restored rail spur is a key to attracting businesses to EPCAL, and predict more
than 22,000 jobs there by 2020.

Judge Loomis said he
expects to make a ruling on the grade crossing issue in about two months.

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