Officials examine implications of NYS&W abandonment

CHENANGO COUNTY – Local officials are looking for the silver lining – and possibly finding just a dark cloud – in light of the permanent de-railment of the New York Susquehanna & Western Railroad, which appears to be imminent.

While one local official says losing the railroad would negatively impact economic development, an area resident and a state representative say keeping it open – which would most likely require state funding – is tough to justify financially and ethically.

The NYS&W has been under fire since last March when it became known the railroad struck a deal with New York Regional Interconnect Inc. – allowing the Albany-based company to erect a portion of its proposed 190-mile-long high voltage power line along tracks from Utica to Woods Corners.

NYRI’s line would run through 44 miles of Chenango County – devastating a swath of the local landscape, weakening the local economy, and endangering the environment and public health, residents argue.

“I’m not insensitive to these issues,” railroad Attorney Nathan Fenno said. “We saw">NYRI as a way to preserve rail service.” The financial specifics of that deal have remained hidden by order from the state Supreme Court.

Now the rail company has reportedly asked state legislators for tax dollars to repair an estimated $400k in flood damage that – combined with a prior lack of business – has halted rail operation from Sherburne to Chenango Forks since June.

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