Walsh waiting on feds for safety reports of elevated railroad following partial collapse

Jul 6, 2018

Officials in Syracuse say they are still waiting for safety information from the federal government on all railroad bridges in the city. 

Debris from the partial collapse of an elevated railroad track’s sidewall in downtown Syracuse was cleared overnight Thursday. The city has reopened W. Onondaga St. but the 500 block of Clinton St. remains closed. No one was hurt by the collapse, which occurred Thursday, and the cause is still under investigation. The New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway and Federal Railroad Administration oversee the rail line. Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) and Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh are requesting the FRA provide copies of the most recent inspection reports, and Walsh is calling on the agency to conduct an immediate inspection of the entire elevated viaduct through the city.

Workers cleared debris from the site where the elevated railroad sidewall collapsed.
Credit Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

"We don’t have jurisdiction over the railroad track, but obviously it is impacting the public right-of-way and public safety,” Walsh said. “As long as that’s the case, we’re going to be involved. But because we do not have direct jurisdiction, it has made it more difficult than we would like to access information. We’re just going to continue to push and work with our partners to do that.”

Katko sent a letter Friday to FRA Administrator Ronald Batory with questions regarding the role the FRA plays in inspecting bridges. 

Walsh said based on the limited information available, he is not aware of any imminent threat to public safety on the rail corridor. He said he also expects the city will be reimbursed for the cleanup costs.