Bayside residents living by a Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) work site are fed up with the noise and health concerns stemming from the space.
Individuals living in the area between 216th and 220th streets along the north side of the LIRR Port Washington Line spoke out at Monday’s Community Board 11 meeting about the quality-of-life concerns the work site poses to their families and neighbors.
James Lollo, a resident of 218th Street, said he and his neighbors have been dealing with these conditions for years now.
“Our lives have been and continue to be gravely affected by the LIRR’s work yard, construction site, junkyard and dumpsite that they planted in the middle of our clean and quiet residential neighborhood,” Lollo said at the Feb. 6 meeting.
Lollo spoke about diesel trucks that are left idling “for hours and often for days” during the day and evening hours, interrupting residents’ sleep and posing environmental and personal health concerns.
Another resident also spoke to the matter, stating the diesel fumes are a special cause for concern to her son and elderly father, who both have asthma.
Lollo also said that workers at the site operate back hoes, tractor trailers and trucks “erratically” in the area, and claimed to have seen certain workers urinate and defecate in the open.
Residents met with LIRR representatives during an on-site visit in Nov. 2016, at which time the railroad agreed to lessen the noise, Lollo said. Still, residents have seen no improvements.
“We respectfully request your help in bringing about the immediate closure and removal of this work site,” Lollo said. “It is both urgent and necessary to the health and well being of our community.”
A representative from Assemblyman Edward Braunstein’s office said the lawmaker also attended the Nov. 2016 on-site meeting and has been working with residents and the LIRR since this summer to alleviate the issue.
On Feb. 1, Braunstein sent a letter to Edward M. Dumas, vice president of market development and public affairs for the LIRR, asking whether he could investigate the feasibility of shutting down the site completely and moving it to a non-residential area. Braunstein’s representative also said the LIRR has moved a significant number of workers from the site within the last week.
An LIRR spokesperson said there is a project underway to resurface the tracks of the Port Washington Branch between Bayside and Great Neck, and this work must take place between 1 and 5 a.m. when train schedules are lightest. The spokesperson also said what residents are hearing, especially recently, is more likely track work equipment, not diesel locomotives, and workers have been asked to minimize or eliminate truck idling and minimize the idle time of the equipment.
“We want to be good neighbors,” the LIRR spokesperson said. “Ongoing overnight track work to resurface the tracks of the Port Washington Branch to ensure their safety has led to an increase in overnight activity in the yard. We’re about halfway through the project. We’ve asked our employees to be sensitive about idling of equipment and trucks, and minimize it to the extent they can.”