Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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Possibility of high speed rail brings excitement and concern

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Possibility of high speed rail brings excitement and concern
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The DOT has been hosting meetings across the state to gather opinions about a high speed rail system. Our Alana LaFlore has more on Tuesday's meeting in Utica.

UTICA, N.Y. -- The New York State Department of Transportation says high speed rail would decrease delays and increase the frequency of trips.

Kervin DeJesus says he's excited to get home quicker, but says he is still a little bit worried.

"I have concerns about the safety of the rails because of the accidents that had happened before," said DeJesus. "And also affordability for regular folks that have an emergency and need to travel faster."

The High Speed Rail Empire Corridor Program is a tiered review process the state must endure to be eligible for federal funding. Depending on the alternative selected, the high speed rail could cost as much as $290 million to $14 billion.

"Right now the Amtrak trains run on the CSX owned freight rail corridor," said Beau Duffy, a DOT employee. "So in order to get speeds of up to 125 miles per hour, the state would have to construct an entirely new corridor. It would have a big environmental impact, it's the most expensive of the alternatives, but it'd also provide the fastest way to travel."

However, even if the alternative with the fastest speed is picked, it wouldn't impact travelers from Utica. People would have to travel to Albany to take advantage of the transportation.

"The tracks would actually be outside of the city and wouldn't come through the train station," explained Duffy. "Utica would still be on the existing service and travels times would be similar to the way they are now."

The Department of Transportation will make a decision within the next year.

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