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New York threatens lawsuit over Oneida County bridge

Ice jammed along the CSX railroad bridge over the Sauquoit Creek last week, flooding the nearby area in the Village of Whitesboro.

Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other state officials arrived in the Village of Whitesboro to help evacuate homes and mitigate the damage caused by ice jam flooding. The CSX railroad bridge that sits low over the Sauquoit Creek was clogged with large chunks of ice and other debris, which sent water over its banks.

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente says unfortunately this happens multiple times a year every year, and CSX has been slow to respond each time.

"There's been times where it just sits there, they get to it when they can, or they don't get to it at all," Picente said. "People get flooded and then we have to go in and clean it out and it keeps happening and it's like - help us out."

Picente and Cuomo say the issues caused by the bridge have cost taxpayers millions of dollars and they are calling on CSX to rebuild it or face legal action.

A spokesperson for CSX says the company plans to maintain open lines of communication with local authorities to find a solution to the problem, but it believes there are multiple factors that contribute to area flooding like upstream development.

CSX is currently working with the New York State Department of Transportation to build a $19 million inland portat the DeWitt rail yard.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.