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.”