DOT Commissioner says Cheektowaga’s allegation is wrong

CHEEKTOWAGA – The acting commissioner for the state’s Department of Transportation is setting the record straight after the Town of Cheektowaga sent Governor Andrew Cuomo a resolution asking for the state to reinstate inspections of so-called bomb trains.

The resolution – co-sponsored by the entire town board – was pushed by Charley Bowman of the Western New York Peace Center.  The resolution said the inspections stopped when gasoline prices fell in recent times and the trains stopped rolling through New York.  The town council called on the reinstatement of the inspections after a “bomb train” was recently seen rolling past the Amtrak station on Dick Road.

Acting Commissioner Paul A. Karas penned an op-ed piece in the Buffalo News last week in response to the resolution saying “nothing could be further from the truth” when it comes to the assertion that the NYSDOT stopped rail inspections.

“Under Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s direction, NYSDOT has continued its aggressive and comprehensive rail safety inspection practices since 2014,” Mr. Karas wrote.  “Had town officials reached out directly to NYSDOT, we could have easily told them as much.”

Mr. Bowman apologized for the error in an email blast Wednesday.

“In hindsight, I should have called the NYS Department of Transportation to ask about the rail inspections. That call would have saved much time and trouble. But I didn’t, and I apologized to Councilman Brian Nowak, the Town Board of Cheektowaga and Senator Tim Kennedy’s office. Given the information I handed them, they acted responsibly and quickly to protect the residents in their respective districts,” Mr. Bowman wrote.

The latest “safety blitz” occurred on June 20, 2018, according to Mr. Karas – seven days before the resolution was unanimously passed.