By Sarina Trangle
Citizens United for Railroad Environmental Solutions rejoiced when state legislators secured $3 million in the New York budget to retrofit a locomotive with a newer, cleaner engine for the second consecutive year.
CURES, a group mainly comprised of Middle Village and Glendale residents living along the railroad tracks leading to the Fresh Pond Rail Terminal, said the $6 million collectively allocated for overhauling two of the 11 locomotives used to haul goods and garbage would help abate noise, odor and pollution.
“Our vision of cleaner, quieter locomotives for the health and welfare of our neighborhoods is coming to fruition,” CURES Chairwoman Mary Parison said in a statement. “We are elated.”
The Long Island Rail Road currently leases a fleet of 11 locomotives to companies that haul freight throughout the city and state. The locomotives’ diesel engines are exempt from the Clean Air Act of 1970 and currently classified as Tier 0, a designation that indicates they produce the most emissions, according to Alexander Schnell, state Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi’s (D-Forest Hills) chief of staff. 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.
The second $3 million would go toward putting this newer engine in a second train.
Hevesi said he would continue petitioning for state money until the entire freight fleet has been upgraded.
“It is encouraging that great strides are being made to fight for, and protect, the health of countless families,” Hevesi said in a statement.
Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.