A congressional hopeful has joined the fight of residents who continue to rail against trains they say are disrupting their lives.
The Fresh Pond freight rail lines, operated by New York & Atlantic Railroad in Middle Village and Glendale, have long bothered residents that live adjacent to the tracks — especially those along 69th Place near the overpass.
“The trains pass through early in the morning, with 80 cars in tow banging,” said Anthony Pedalino who lives down the block from the tracks in Middle Village. “It wakes you up almost nightly.”
Joe Dalfino, who has lived next door to the tracks for 20 years, said the noise and fumes from the cars has picked up over the past few years. Train traffic picked up around five years ago when the railroad began carrying garbage through the area, residents claim.
In November, the company agreed to move the noisier aspects of the train 400 feet, though this has alleviated little of the noise, nearby residents said.
Residents still complain of waking up to early morning trains up to six days a week.
“For far too long, residents of this area have had to put up with the noise, the smell and the lack of security resulting from rail companies ignoring the community’s concerns and performing railroad yard activities outside the railroad yard,” said Assemblymember Rory Lancman, candidate for the 6th Congressional District.
Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, is concerned the disturbances will only get worse if garbage from an additional six community boards begins passing through, though this is currently under review.
Lancman intends to introduce legislation that will alleviate the suffering of the nearby residents if elected to Congress. The state and city have little to no power to regulate the railway.
His bill, the Neighborhood Rail Improvement Act, would prohibit railroad yard activities — coupling, decoupling and maintenance — from taking place on tracks outside of the railroad yard and give local residents input into yard operations
“I think the government needs to stand up for its residents,” said Pedalino. “It’s not just the railways, it’s the government that’s allowing the railways to do this.”
Noise is not the annoyance those living adjacent to the tracks deal with; residents complain of the odor emanating from train cars filled with garbage and the train’s diesel fumes.
During the summer, Pedalino said he must keep his windows closed and his air conditioner running due to the fumes and Dalfino said he can no longer use his backyard for barbecues.
“We need to institutionalize mechanisms for the community to have input, to require the railroads carrier, the agencies that oversee the railroad’s operations, to sit down with the community hear their concerns and give answers,” he said. “It’s through that process that the community is able to influence and shape the policies and practices of the railroad.”