Authorities are expecting CSX Transportation to shoulder responsibility for fixing damage on Route 5 from the dual freight-train derailment that sent one car tumbling onto the road.
The train company is also expected to repair damage inflicted by heavy machinery used in the cleanup, which is entering its 20th day today.
CSX is using the road as a staging area to pull mangled wreckage from the shoulder, but work will be moved off the road as early as next week, according to state Department of Transportation spokesman Jim Piccola.
In an effort to minimize the impact on the community, CSX and the DOT made some changes to the 11-mile closure from Fonda to Palatine Bridge over the past week and a half.
The crash and resultant detour left the National Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine cut off from guests for several days, but Friar Mark Steed said it only took a phone call to address the situation in time for the holy site’s annual Saint Kateri Weekend and Celebration of Kateri’s Feast Day last weekend.
“The railway was cooperative and helpful,” he said.
The barricade initially situated just west of Hickory Hill Road was moved further west of the shrine and CSX arranged for the DOT to place signs on the road announcing the shrine is open.
Steed said 150 guests arrived Saturday for the Kateri Feast Day Mass Celebration and 300 attended Mass with the Solemn Blessing with the Relic of Saint Kateri on Sunday. He said those numbers reflect good attendance.
Fonda Mayor William F. Peeler said he’s heard only rumors the road’s closure is having an impact on truck routes and last week there was “tremendous traffic” in the village, but he’s unsure if that was related to the detour.
He said there was a lot of griping in the early days after the derailment, but he senses people are being compassionate and understanding.
The detour has been shortened to accommodate local traffic, allowing cars to head up Martin Road, but other traffic is still being rerouted, according to Piccola.
Piccola said Tuesday it’s still unclear how badly the roadway was damaged. He said attorneys will be discussing what happens next, and it’s likely CSX will either hire a road builder or use its own crews to repair the road, work that would be accompanied by on-site DOT inspections.
He said big, concrete Jersey barriers will be situated between the road and the work site.
Piccola said it’s likely motorists will see some delays such as flagger-controlled traffic while the work is ongoing.
The crash took place at a particularly inopportune time — the day before flash flooding tore up Fort Plain and other communities in Central New York. It left only Route 5S on the south side of the Mohawk River — a roadway that often gets shut down by flooding — as a main east-west thoroughfare.
CSX spokesman Robert T. Sullivan said in an email Monday the cause of the crash is still under investigation and referred questions about the road to the DOT.