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Massena rail crossing work to begin

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MASSENA - Upgrades to the CSX rail crossing at state Route 420 will begin on Monday, according to Department of Transportation spokesman Mike Flick.

CSX and the DOT had been discussing the project for the last several months; work is scheduled to last through Oct. 19, Mr. Flick said. CSX spokesman Robert T. Sullivan previously said the rail company will replace the existing crossing, making for a smoother ride for Route 420 motorists.

The final plan for rerouting traffic requires southbound motorists on Route 420 to turn right onto Cook Street, then left onto Wells Street, a block west of the roadwork. Cars will then be routed back onto 420 near the front of the vacant Murphy’s Farm & Garden Supply building.

Northbound motorists will be rerouted directly around the construction site, Mr. Flick said. The detour will be in place 24 hours a day until the work wraps up.

“It should be minor inconveniences,” Mr. Flick said. “We’re trying to make this as simple and painless as possible.”

DOT, CSX and village officials had discussed several options for rerouting traffic around the crossing work. One involved closing the Route 420 span over the Raquette River, rerouting motorists nearly 6 miles downstream to the bridge at Route 37C.

Mayor James F. Hidy and other village officials were not in support of that option. Mr. Hidy said shutting down the bridge could “wreak havoc” with out-of-town visitors and emergency personnel, as Route 420 is one of Massena’s busiest streets.

The shorter detour is not only beneficial for motorists emergency responders, according to Department of Public Works Superintendent Hassan A. Fayad. The village’s garbage trucks make several trips daily on Route 420 to the county transfer station. Driving to the Route 37C bridge would have cost the department more in fuel per trip. Mr. Fayad said he expected any traffic delays from the work would not be significant.

Police Chief Timmy J. Currier praised the final traffic plan.

“This was a great compromise for safety, for commerce and for convenience for the many motorists that use that crossing on a daily basis,” Mr. Currier said in an email. “A long detour would have been disruptive and created serious safety concerns to the southern end of the village. This was a great compromise.”

Massena Volunteer Fire Department Chief Thomas C. Miller could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

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