Bids for repair of three washouts on the Ulster County-owned railroad tracks near Boiceville have come in considerably higher than anticipated, said Chris White, deputy director of the county planning department. “Our engineer is evaluating the bids and the breakdowns,” said White. “Administrators and the legislature will decide whether to move forward. There’s not a guarantee that we’ll be progressing this project this year.”
The track damage is located along Cold Brook Road where residents have been upset about the planned use of tracks by Rail Explorers, the rail bike company that is scheduled to begin operation from Phoenicia to Boiceville in late summer. If the tracks are not repaired this year, the company will be forced to alter its route, as it has already been considering due to residents’ concerns. The owners are examining the possibility of running the rail bikes to Mount Tremper and then back to Phoenicia, despite a slight uphill grade.
Engineering consultants for the county had estimated a repair job of $300,000 to $600,000 for the three damaged sections of track combined. Bids came in considerably higher. Estimates for all three projects were received from Hubbell, Inc., at $973,189.71; Railroad Construction Company, Inc., at $1,177,381; and CFI Contracting, Inc., at $1,247,000.
“Over next couple weeks we will have to make decisions on whether and how to progress,” said White. “We’re still extrapolating information from the bids, trying to figure out what drove the costs so high. It’s a remote site, so getting materials in and out is a substantial part of the cost. The administration needs to talk to the leadership of the legislature and see what they’re comfortable with. We’ll also need something in writing from FEMA saying they would accept a change in scope, since we need erosion and sediment control, which were not in the original scope.”
Meanwhile, White has asked the engineer to look at what can be done to stabilize the tracks and consider other alternatives.
Town of Olive supervisor Sylvia Rozzelle said Cold Brook Road residents spoke up at the April 11 town board meeting, expressing concern about Rail Explorers’ tours. “They are very upset,” said Rozzelle. “Some of those properties are very close to the tracks. I can see why they’re concerned about the noise going by several times a day and people possibly throwing out water bottles.” The town is insisting on a site plan for the disembarkation area along Cold Brook Road or Route 28A. But the entire issue will be moot if the track repairs do not proceed.