By Sarina Trangle
State Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) has again requested $3 million in the state budget be reserved for retrofitting a high-emissions freight locomotive with a more modern engine.
Last year the lawmaker successfully earmarked $3 million to upgrade a state-owned locomotive. This year more than 80 Assembly members signed a Jan. 23 letter that Hevesi sent to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) urging him to continue financing the work.
U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and Jerrold Nadler (D-Brooklyn), Borough President Melinda Katz and City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) have also supported Hevesi’s request.
Residents along the tracks leading to the Fresh Pond Rail Terminal in Middle Village and Glendale have long complained about noise and odors from freight locomotives carrying garbage along the route.
The Long Island Rail Road currently leases a fleet of 11 locomotives to companies that haul the garbage throughout the city and state. The diesel engines in the locomotives are exempt from the Clean Air Act of 1970 and currently classified as Tier 0, a designation that indicates the engines produce the most emissions, according to Hevesi’s chief of staff, Alexander Schnell.
Schnell said the first $3 million was used to examine which parts of the engine could be replaced with Tier 3 and 4 components that meet more modern emissions standards. A custom engine is expected to be constructed and installed in a locomotive by the end of 2014.
Retrofitting the locomotives with these engines would reduce emissions by up to 76 percent annually, according to Hevesi’s office. The by-products of the diesel engines have been linked to lung infections and other diseases.
If granted, the second $3 million would provide a second freight locomotive with a newer engine.
Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.