Saratoga County

Saratoga IDA will fix rail crossing

The Saratoga County Industrial Development Agency will fix a deteriorating railroad crossing it owns

The Saratoga County Industrial Development Agency will fix a deteriorating railroad crossing it owns in the W.J. Grande Industrial Park, the county’s biggest industrial park.

The IDA board voted Monday to get cost estimates for repairing the grade-level crossing on Cady Hill Boulevard, after receiving a complaint from the city school district.

Current conditions could “potentially damage district-owned buses, not to mention other vehicles using the crossing,” assistant school transportation supervisor Jeff Wainwright wrote in an e-mail to the county last week.

The district’s bus garage is on the park-interior side of the crossing, so all 100 school buses use it several times a day during the school year.

“It is obviously deteriorated,” IDA Executive Director Larry Benton said at an agency meeting in Ballston Spa. “It was built with state money, but the agreement is we own it and would maintain it.”

The crossing was installed in the mid-1980s to serve businesses in the park, and consists of rail tracks running in a channel through the pavement, with a protective guard rail on either side of the track.

One of the guard rails has broken and protrudes from the pavement. It bounces up and down each time a northbound vehicle goes over it. Pavement that once supported the rail is worn away.

The crossing is heavily used by vehicle traffic, but lightly used by rail traffic.

Cady Hill Boulevard, a county-owned public road, is the most convenient vehicle access to businesses on DuPlainville Road. In 2004, the city school district moved its bus garage there. Big-rig and commercial trucks also use it every day, and a beverage distribution warehouse that should open in 2009 would add to the truck traffic going over the crossing.

For rail cars, the crossing is on a spur from the nearby Saratoga rail yard. CP Rail makes deliveries to two Grande tenants, the Quad/Graphics printing plant and Saratoga Warehouse Associates, Benton said.

Benton said he expects the crossing could be replaced with something more modern, like a concrete apron, that both better-protects the tracks and makes a smoother ride for vehicles going over them.

Benton wants to present a cost estimate to the IDA at a meeting on May 19, but guessed it might cost $10,000 to $15,000. Money could come from the IDA’s available funds.

That meeting will be held at Halfmoon Town Hall, following a public hearing on a refinancing application by Atlantic British Associates, a foreign auto parts distributor the IDA has assisted with tax breaks in the past.

The company wants to refinance existing IDA-facilitated debt, and also borrow about $500,000 in additional money to expand within its existing building, for a total of $2.6 million. Because Atlantic British could qualify for a mortgage tax exemption, Benton said a public hearing has to be held before the IDA can act.

“Any time you grant benefits, you have to hold a public hearing,” he said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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