Nearly one year after Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi sent a letter to Speaker Sheldon Silver, signed by 80 of his colleagues, securing a $3 million budget to overhaul antiquated high-emission LIRR freight locomotives running throughout the city, Hevesi and numerous elected officials are pushing for the same funding in 2014.
"After securing a $3 million allocation for a locomotive upgrade in the previous budget, the increased support this year from over 80 of my Assembly colleagues has proven that this is a project worth pursuing," Hevesi said. "Continuing to fund these upgrades is the right thing to do not only for the health and safety of our communities, but also to ensure that New York is a national leader in environmentally sustainable freight rail technology."
In the years following complaints of noise and waste debris from trains in the community surrounding the Atlantic Railway train yard at 68-01 Otto Rd. in Glendale, it was previously discovered that increased traffic from One World Recycling in Long Island had been a major factor.
Mary Parisen, co-founder of Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions (CURES), said with a continual focus from the state on utilizing rail for waste removal, there should be more attention toward upgrades and regulations.
“The biggest export by rail is waste,” Parisen said. “You can’t have waste going through our neighborhoods not containerized properly.”
Since CURES was first formed in 2009, the group, co-founded with Mary Arnold, has worked closely with numerous elected officials and the local community boards.
Their advocacy has since resulted in $3 million allocated by the state to replace one of the old “Tier 0” engines to a state-of-the-art “Tier 3” locomotive. While there are still an estimated 10 outdated engines in the fleet, the hope is that the new train will address some of the noise and pollution complaints.
"People have to realize that this is the way of the future," Parisen said. "Local and state politicians are calling for more trains to get trucks off the road, but you can't trade one evil for the next."