If anyone in the Middle Village-Glendale area wonders why the refitting of two locomotives with low-emission technology will take until late 2013, the company doing the work says that it is the typical time period.
A $2 million federal grant from the Environmental Protection Agency is allowing the city and CSX Transportation to refit two conventional diesel freight locomotives serving Queens, as reported by the Queens Chronicle in December.
A spokesperson for the New York City Economic Development Corporation, which helped secure the funding for the project, said that it takes two years for trains to “retro-fit.”
But that means two more years of the status-quo air quality.
“It’s a good start, but it’s nothing to get excited about,” said Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association. “This should’ve been done long ago. They need to make it a priority.”
“There is a tremendous amount of black soot in the air. You see it all over. We don’t know what we are breathing,” he said.
The locomotives will not be operational until late 2013 because it takes time to manufacture and install the cleaner technology, according to the EPA.
Asked why it would take two years, Mary Mears, EPA deputy director, declined to say, but noted the process of refitting older trains is entirely voluntary and very important.
The locomotives will be retooled with Generator Set technology. GenSet replaces conventional diesel engines with several smaller motors that each can be activated when the locomotive is at full power and deactivated when is not needed.
“Obviously, the sooner the better, but it is what it is and we are looking forward to it,” said a spokesperson for Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills).
Hevesi is a member of Civics United for Rail Environmental Solutions, a coalition of 14 civic associations located along the railroad line. The organization says freight rail trashes the community because of air pollution and constant noise.
The time frame for the trains to be operational reflects the process of selecting the contractor and the actual rebuilding of the units, according to Robert Sullivan, a CSX spokesman.
“It is not unusual,” Sullivan said.