Community raises opposition to potential Cross Harbor Tunnel plan

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Don’t even think about bringing back the Cross Harbor Tunnel proposal, local civic leaders told the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ).

In response to the Tier I Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) that the PANYNJ released on Sept. 25 for their proposed Cross Harbor Freight Program (CHFP), local civic organizations and Community Board 5 (CB 5) are fighting back, requesting that no rail tunnel option be considered.

The Tier I FEIS narrowed down a list of possible alternatives and identified two preferred methods — the tunnel and an enhanced rail car float alternative — that will be recommended for advancement to the Tier II study for more a thorough analysis.

CB 5 District Manager Gary Giordano penned a letter requesting that the rail tunnel option not be looked at any further due to the negative impacts it would have on the communities of the board, which are already burdened by current freight activity.

“Committee members again discussed the fact that our communities have been overwhelmed by the amount of freight currently being transported by rail, since all freight transported by rail to and from Long Island (Queens, Brooklyn, Nassau and Suffolk) has to come through and be sorted at the Fresh Pond Railyard, which is located in the Glendale area of District 5, Queens,” Giordano wrote. “Because of daytime rail track usage constraints throughout the rest of the Long Island Rail Road system, the great majority of freight rail operations in our communities occur from late in the evening until the early morning hours.”

Giordano also added that a freight rail tunnel would increase operations at the Fresh Pond Railyard, noting that there would be only an estimated 2.5 percent reduction in trucks using eastbound Hudson River and harbor crossings, while pointing out other important issues that should be addressed, such as pollution from old diesel locomotives operating at railyard presently.

Local civics organization Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions (CURES) echoed that sentiment in a letter written to Jonathan D. McDade, Region Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Patrick Foye, executive director for PANYNJ.

“Even if this project worked perfectly, for $10 [billion] it only gets 2.5 [percent] of trucks off eastbound Hudson River and harbor crossings in a 23-county area, while concentrating adverse impacts in areas of NYC already unduly burdened with transportation, environmental and public health problems,” the group wrote. “Before bringing in more traffic, pollution and noise, fix these problems, as well as safety and reliability problems that are a drag on the use of rail today.”

CB 5 is set to vote a recommendation written by Giordano against the Cross Harbor Tunnel during its meeting on Wednesday at Christ the King High School in Middle Village.

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