Tag Archives: Fresh Pond Rail Yard

New York & Atlantic’s safety procedures under review following Maspeth crash


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Anthony Giudice

In the wake of a fiery collision between a train and a tractor-trailer at a railroad crossing in Maspeth on July 8, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced Tuesday that it will launch a safety review of New York & Atlantic Railway’s (NYA) safety culture and management practices.

The train was traveling at a minimum of 20 mph, 5 mph above the area railroad speed limit of 15 mph, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

This safety analysis will review NYA’s operational practices, its compliance with federal regulations and the overall safety culture of the train operation company. The FRA stated that NYA has committed to fully cooperate with the safety review.

“Rail safety is a responsibility DOT [Department of Transportation] shares with the operators,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Railroads must adhere to the strict standards of safety set by FRA, and FRA must ensure and enforce compliance in order to protect lives. This safety review aims to do just that.”

The FRA’s rail safety team will inspect NYA’s operating departments; engineer and conductor certifications; locomotive engineer oversight; grade crossing diagnostics; the company’s operation control center procedures and rail traffic controller training methods; human factors that may have caused the crash; and its compliance with federal practices regulations.

Photo by Robert Stridiron

Photo by Robert Stridiron

“[Tuesday’s] announcement by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to launch a safety review of the New York & Atlantic Railway is welcoming news,” said Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan in a statement. “After last week’s train-truck collision in Queens, this study is much needed for our community. I am confident that this review by the FRA will help to improve safety standards. I will continue to monitor this important situation and working with my partners in government – city, state and federal — to make sure that Queens rails and roads are safe.”

After the FRA completes its review of NYA’s safety culture and practices, it will issue a report outlining their findings and provide recommendations to the railroad company. Additionally, the FRA will evaluate NY&A’s follow-up to the recommendations and assess if subsequent actions are necessary to strengthen safety at NYA Railway.

“In this safety sweep of NYA, FRA will provide recommendations on specific areas where the railroad must improve to meet the high safety standards FRA and the country expect,” said Sarah Feinberg, acting FRA administrator.

The Courier has reached out to Paul Victor, president of NYA, and is awaiting a response.

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Glendale, Middle Village residents get more time to vent on waste-by-rail permits


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Anthony Giudice

Residents of Glendale, Ridgewood and Middle Village scored a victory in their fight for the containerization of all solid waste transported by rail Tuesday, when elected officials secured an extension of the public comment period regarding permits regarding two waste haulers’ plans to increase their rail operations.

In the permits, One World Recycling Inc., which operates out of Lindenhurst, is looking to expand the total quantity of waste they transport via the Fresh Pond Railyard, which runs through parts of Glendale, Ridgewood and Middle Village.

Coastal Distribution in Farmingdale, which also uses the Fresh Pond Railyard, also seeks to expand the type of waste it hauls to include commercial and residential waste, and is planning to test out three types of containerization methods.

In a letter to Joseph Martens, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), dated June 26, U.S. Representatives Grace Meng and Nydia Velázquez, state Senator Joseph Addabbo, Assemblymen Andrew Hevesi and Michael Miller, City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and Borough President Melinda Katz got the NYSDEC to extend the public comment period for permits.

“We are concerned about the impact that increased operations will have on the quality of life for our constituents in these communities, specifically in regards to odor from open containers that sit idle, the attraction of pests, and pollution stemming from the construction and demolition debris and other waste that are not adequately sealed,” the lawmakers wrote. “A public forum should be held in order to provide an opportunity for the residents to voice their concerns and reach an understanding with the companies planning these operations.”

Prior to this extension, the comment period was only 19 days long, not the typical time frame of 30 days. The public can now submit comments through Aug. 9.

The NYSDEC will factor in comments from the public when deciding whether or not to grant the permits.

For the One World Recycling permit, the public can submit written comments by email to OneWorldRecycling@dec.ny.gov or by regular mail to Mark Carrara, NYSDEC, SUNY at Stony Brook, 50 Circle Road, Stony Brook, NY 11790-3409.

For the Coastal Distribution permit, the public can submit written comments by email to NYAR.Coastal@dec.ny.gov or by regular mail to NYSDEC, Susan Ackerman, SUNY at Stony Brook, 50 Circle Road, Stony Brook, NY 11790-3409.

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New York and Atlantic Railway responds to community concerns


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

It’s been there for more than a century and is being used more frequently than in recent years, yet the Fresh Pond Railyard continues to be a source of friction between its operators and nearby residents.

The New York and Atlantic Railway, which leases the Glendale rail yard from the Long Island Rail Road for freight operations, insists only so much can be done to mitigate concerns from local residents while meeting regional transportation needs.

“What has happened over the intervening 100 years, as one would expect, the community has undergone expansion and construction where the footprint of the community ends at the footprint of the railroad,” said Paul Victor, New York and Atlantic Railway president.

Even with the uptick in railroad activity, Victor said, rail transportation is historically “a fraction of what it was.”

“We always try to accommodate as much as we can to local residents, but we can’t really fulfill their wish and not be here because if we’re not here, you have to weigh the historic difference between a railroad moving something and a truck,” Victor said.

As it pertains to local concerns over New York and Atlantic Railway’s open top rail cars, Victor said that the waste in those containers is non-organic, non-putrescible waste. It is only construction and demolition waste (C and D), which does not give off offending odors or attract unwanted wildlife.

“That has zero impact on the community because it’s no different than a C and D container in the street,” Victor said. “Then, to be fair, you have to cover everything in every street and see what happens to the economy. If that’s what they want, don’t do it to the railroad car only; take every construction site and force it to be covered on every corner.”

Residents of Glendale near the Fresh Pond Terminal also raised concerns about hearing trains operating during all hours of the night.

“There is no physical way to accommodate the existing traffic in an eight-hour window, or a ten-hour window, or even a 12-hour window,” said James Bonner, director of sales and marketing for New York and Atlantic Railway. “The nature of the timing of our interchange for some other agreements we have with other community members is that you’re going to have be operating around the clock, and that’s what we do.”

To help alleviate some of the noises made by the trains, New York and Atlantic Railway has recently installed a greaser in the Fresh Pond Terminal, which reduces the squeal of the trains.

“We did this specifically because we told CURES [Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions] we were going to do it and we did it,” Victor said. “We talked with them, we said here’s what we can do, we made the investment and put that in.”

Mary Parisen, chair of CURES, believes that the C and D waste can cause problems for the neighborhood.

“People with respiratory ailments are subject to the dust from the cars when they are being transported and bang together,” Parisen said. “When rain gets in there it can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.”

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More funding secured to upgrade outdated freight locomotives


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Train.tif

Extra funds are coming down the track from Albany to clean up some of the state’s dirtiest diesel locomotives.

Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, along with other elected officials, civic organizations and the New York League of Conservative Voters, announced that $3 million was secured in the 2015 state budget to continue a program to overhaul old, state-owned freight locomotives.

This funding comes after Hevesi previously secured $6 million in the 2013 and 2014 state budgets. That money has already been put into retrofitting two locomotives of the 11-car fleet at Glendale’s Fresh Pond Railyard, which are set to roll out this December.

According to a source close to the situation, the first two locomotives, which received funding for upgrades during the last two years, were delayed getting their enhancements due to contract disputes with the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), which owns the railyard but leases it to the New York and Atlantic Railway. The two train cars went in for their scheduled upgrades this past summer and will be set to go by the end of the year.

“With this additional state funding, and the first two overhauled freight locomotives expected to come on-line later this year, it is encouraging that great strides are being made to fight for, and protect, the health of countless families in the boroughs of New York and on Long Island,” Hevesi said.

Retrofitting diesel freight engines was a top transportation and environmental priority in the Fiscal Year 2013, 2014 and 2015 Assembly budgets. The request was supported and signed by over 60 members of the Assembly, and received bipartisan support in both chambers of the legislature.

“I am very pleased that the new state budget includes an additional $3 million that will be used to continue a program to upgrade the engines of antiquated LIRR freight locomotives,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said. “This program will improve the lives of Queens residents by reducing the unhealthy nitrogen oxide emissions and curbing the unpleasant noise pollution generated by the locomotives’ existing diesel engines.”

The train cars are currently equipped with antiquated engines which are up to the standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for 1970s locomotives and give off toxic emissions. These outdated trains operate throughout Brooklyn, Long Island and Queens, and specifically at the Fresh Pond Railyard.

“This funding gives us greater ammunition in the fight for our constituents’ quality of life and I am thrilled we can continue to see the progress in overhauling the antiquated freight locomotives,” state Senator Joseph Addabbo said. “This benefits people near and far to the rail tracks — allowing those close to be less disturbed by train rumblings and those all around to allow more fresh, clean air into their lungs.”

The continued funding of this program will allow for a third freight locomotive to be upgraded to meet the current EPA Tier 4 emissions standards. The EPA Tier 4 standards are some of the highest in the country since the EPA changed their emission standards in 2000.

The enhancements to this third train car is expected to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions — a known byproduct of diesel engines linked to respiratory diseases — by up to 76 percent per year, or the equivalent of 120 tons of emissions over 10 years.

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Glendale, Middle Village still dealing with train noise, pollution


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

After years of drawing attention to the issue, Glendale and Middle Village residents say they are still waiting on promises from public officials to fix trains that disturb and pollute their neighborhoods.

Residents say the trains loaded with garbage and construction debris wake people up on their way through Queens to a town upstate. They add that the railroad cars make screeching sounds and idle behind houses while the engines emit harmful gases from diesel fuels.

The MTA-owned trains are leased to companies including CSX and New York and Atlantic Railway.

At the end of March, Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi was able to allocate $3 million from the state budget towards updating the engines. Retrofitting the trains in question, which were designed in accordance with 1970s standards, will significantly reduce the impact of gases in the community.

“We are still in the process of working with the MTA and we’ll see how that is going play out,” said Alex Schnell, chief of staff to the assemblymember.

Congressmember Grace Meng, who toured the Fresh Pond Rail Yard in Glendale in April to learn about the problem, wrote a letter to the Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies concerning the federal budget. She asked for $30 million from the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) to retrofit old trains with the new engines.

“This level of funding would help alleviate the significant unmet demand and would assist in upgrading inefficiencies,” Meng said in the letter.

As of press time, Meng had not received a response.

For residents like Anthony Pedalino, elected officials’ actions to date have not been fast enough.

With the open car locomotives running below ground level, Pedalino and others suggested that a tunnel be built or adequate covers set up for the cars to stop the leak of foul smells.

“That protection is the least they can do,” Pedalino said.

He sends out emails to a number of public officials almost daily to remind them about the issue.

“I think locomotives with new engines are a big plus and will cut down on a significant amount of pollution. This is a wonderful start,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of Community Board 5. “I can understand people being upset, even though that’s some good news.”

 

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