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Congress may deliver funding for Queens

The deafening blare of train horns which has tormented residents of Little Neck for several years took a big step closer to being hushed, with the passage of the 2008 Omnibus Spending Bill by Congress, just days before lawmakers went home for Christmas.
Representative Gary Ackerman had “earmarked” $125,000 to help fund improvement of the Long Island Rail Road grade crossing at Little Neck Parkway during committee hearings on the bill. Because it’s possible to evade the existing barriers, federal law requires trains to sound the incredibly loud warning when they approach.
The solution proposed by city engineers, however would cost far more - approaching a million dollars, according to an estimate by Bernard Haber, a former chair of Community Board 11, which covers the area.
Haber, a Civil Engineer accomplished in public works, has proposed an alternative plan acceptable to the Federal Railroad Administration and endorsed by the Community Board, which would allow the crossing to be certified as a “quiet zone” for a fraction of the cost of the city’s “Quad Gate” proposal.
As if to entice the city to accept the quicker and cheaper suggestion, Ackerman’s budget item for the Little Neck improvement was nearly doubled in the final bill - to $245,000. This amount would easily cover the cost of the entire improvement, according to Haber.
In addition to enough money to help hundreds of Little Neck residents get a good night’s sleep, the spending bill also includes:
$147,000 to help fund construction of a visitor’s center at the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona. The museum, operated by Queens College, is the last home of the legendary musician and goodwill ambassador. Archives would also be housed there.
$477,000 is earmarked to enhance patient safety and clinical efficiency at the Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks. The psychiatric facility, known for its pioneering work in diagnosis, treatment and research of mental illness, is part of the North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System.
$334,000 divided between two programs at the Queens Theatre in the Park. The facility in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park seeks to enhance immigrants’ employment prospects in the arts industry and intervene in the lives of juveniles who are on probation.
$329,000 for the Education and Assistance Corporation, to expand a highly regarded criminal justice services program in Queens which is recognized as the case management arm of Queens and other District Attorneys offices.
The bill also includes nearly $63 million for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, which represents a $1 million increase over last year.

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