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Queens Chronicle

Baysiders unhappy with LIRR rail yard

Neighborhood residents weary of idling engines in space along Port Wash line

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Posted: Thursday, February 16, 2017 10:30 am

Sleeping while engines idle at the Long Island Rail Road’s yard in Bayside between 215th and 220th streets is not easy, some say.

“Our lives continue to be gravely affected by the Long Island Rail Road’s work yard, construction site junkyard and dump site,” neighborhood resident James Lollo said at last week’s Community Board 11 meeting.

“The stench” is so bad, he said, that it results in “eyes and sinuses irritated [and] throats sore.”

Lollo added that the LIRR officials responsible for the yard should be ashamed of themselves.

“I don’t know how they’re able to sleep at night,” he said.

Another Bayside resident irked by the idling engines also complained at the meeting.

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) sent a letter to LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski two days after the meeting calling his attention to the matter.

“Residents state that diesel trains are left idling for hours during the day and evening hours sometimes until 1:00 a.m.,” the lawmaker wrote. “This has caused several environmental concerns for residents who state that the noise is unbearable and they are unable to open their windows due to the fumes that come from trains idling in the yard.”

The MTA’s LIRR press office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) visited the yard in November with LIRR officials.

“They said that they would look into making changes, potentially moving the diesel engine that’s making a lot of noise,” David Fischer, Braunstein’s chief of staff, told the Chronicle.

Some Bayside residents, Fischer said, suggested moving the equipment to the rail yard in Willets Point.

“In the meantime the noise has continued,” he added. “The railroad did remove some of the construction crew working on materials from the trackwork.”

Recently, Braunstein asked the agency to look at simply shutting down the rail yard.

“We haven’t gotten a response yet; I would assume it would take some time to work that out,” he said.

Although Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) has not received any complaints about the yard, spokesman Lionel Morales said that his office “will work with our local state elected officials and the LIRR to expedite the work being done and alleviate the negative impact it is having on the residents.”

Larry Penner, a retired Great Neck, LI-based transportation official, proposes long- and short-term solutions to the vexatious rail yard.

“There are absolutely no sound barriers at that yard,” he said. “You could have like a 5-foot or 10-foot or 15-foot wall, a sound barrier.” Trees and shrubbery could be planted to beautify the barrier, he added.

That’s Penner’s short-term fix. Replacing the rail yard with a commuter parking lot would fix the deficiency of spots around the LIRR station, Penner said.

The lot could have “a covered canopy pedestrian path connecting that yard to the Bayside railroad station,” according to the former transportation official, who said that congestion around the neighborhood’s station will worsen when the East Side Access project to connect the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal is finished.

The engineering firm VHB analyzed the dearth of parking spots in downtown Bayside for the neighborhood’s business improvement district in 2015, funded by a grant from Vallone. It found that 1,100 more parking spots were needed for the neighborhood section.

Bayside Village BID Executive Director Lyle Sclair did not immediately return a request for comment about Penner’s proposal to use the rail yard for parking.

The rail yard will be one of the topics of the Community Board 11 Transportation Committee meeting at the end of this month, according to District Manager Susan Seinfeld.

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1 comment:

  • pvaldezriverajr posted at 4:21 pm on Fri, Feb 17, 2017.

    pvaldezriverajr Posts: 292

    If only the rail yard could be expanded without affected the quality of life as much, even though there an increasing number of commuters along the LIRR Port Washington Branch. [beam]