by katy gagnon
State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) secured up to $1 million in funding last week to install crossing gates so that trains would not be required to blow their horns in Little Neck.The new gates will completely block all road traffic on Little Neck Parkway from crossing the LIRR when a train is approaching.According to the Federal Railway Administration, such a barrier is needed to create a quiet zone, which allows trains to keep their horns silent as they near an at-grade crossing.The blasts from approaching trains – two long blasts, one short and then one more long – were a source of frustration for many Little Neck and Douglaston residents since the FRA adopted new safety guidelines in 2005.Since then elected officials have tried to raise the funds necessary for the project. This included $250,000 of federal funds secured by U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) in 2006 and $100,000 allocated by City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside).But more funding was required to build the four-gate design approved by the city, said Bernard Haber, a retired engineer and past Community Board 11 president involved in the project. The four-gate plan was estimated to cost $800,000 in 2005. Haber believes the plan now will cost close to $1 million to build today.The gates also will include a safety system, which will allow police, fire and ambulance personnel to lift the gates and pass through in the event of an emergency. It will be similar to the way a driver can remotely lift a garage door, Padavan said.The LIRR and city Transportation Department will be in charge of implementing the project. Padavan said the next step would be to create a design for the gates and then start the bidding and construction process. Padavan said the plan would take at least six months to complete, but he has asked the project to be expedited.”[Little Neck residents] have waited too long,” he said.