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Large portions of St. Lawrence County lose internet service Friday morning

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POTSDAM - A CSX Corp. train broke a low-hanging fiber-optic wire along County Route 35 in Potsdam at about 6:30 Friday morning, causing widespread cable outages across the region.

The cable, Internet and phone outages affected Time Warner Cable customers in Ogdensburg, Gouverneur, Waddington, Canton, Morristown and Potsdam.

Time Warner Cable Central New York region spokeswoman Stephanie Salanger said the train damaged about a half a mile of fiber-optics line near the railroad crossing at Eben-Crary Mills Road, County Route 35, also snapping a nearby utility pole.

At 11:45 a.m., service was restored in Ogdensburg, but areas in Canton and Potsdam remained disconnected into early Friday evening.

“We are seeing some areas restored already, but there are patches around Potsdam and Canton especially that remain without service,” Ms. Salanger said. “We expect all service to be restored this evening.”

The outages caused difficulties for north country residents as the outage disrupted bank ATMs and pay-at-the-pump fuel service.

St. Lawrence University spokeswoman Macreena Doyle said the school’s computer network was operational but not connected beyond campus.

“Our onsite computer systems are working, its just our Internet access that is not working,” she said. “We’re still able to access grades and things like that, we just can’t get onto the web.”

Ms. Salanger, speaking for Time Warner Cable, said it might be a long wait before service was fully restored.

“It is not simply hitting one switch and everything goes back on,” she said. “I wish it were that easy. The network is very complicated, there is a lot of technology that goes into it.”

Time Warner technicians slowly reconnected the 192 individual wires contained inside the cable, restoring service piecemeal.

CSX spokesman Robert Sullivan said rail service was not interrupted.

A Time Warner crew from Syracuse arrived at the scene with a replacement wire, but had to wait for permission from CSX to begin work.

“We’re at the mercy of CSX until they can clear the area and make sure it’s safe for our techs to get out there,” she said. “Obviously, we’re dying to get in there.”

The cables are required to have 24 feet of clearance as they cross the railroad’s right-of-way, Ms. Salanger said. For a train to hit them, they would have had to sag across the tracks.

Service was gradually restored to other areas throughout Monday evening.

“We sent a crew out there to assess the situation and to work with the cable company,” Mr. Sullivan said. “We had no reports of any issues or problems with train operations. We run through there on a regular basis.”

Times Staff Writer Jacob Tierney and Johnson Newspapers Editor Elizabeth Lyons contributed to this report.

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