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Queens lawmakers call on state to address local concerns regarding Interborough Express

Queens Interborough Express
A rendering of an Interborough Express stop on Roosevelt Avenue in Queens (Photo courtesy of MTA)

Queens elected officials sent a letter to Governor Kathy Hochul and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey last week asking them to address local concerns around the Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood and Glendale areas regarding the Interborough Express Rail. 

Hochul announced the proposal for the Interborough Express Rail, which would connect Queens and Brooklyn, during the State of the State address in January. The idea is touted as a way to increase access to transportation and make commuting and traveling through the outer boroughs easier. 

However, locals in the Community Board 5 district are concerned by the potential noise and traffic this would bring to an area already overwhelmed with freight cars. The rail would go right through the Ridgewood, Middle Village and Maspeth areas — which have been dealing with excessive noise from the New York & Atlantic Railway Co. (NYA) rail at all hours of the night, among other issues.

Congresswoman Grace Meng is leading the effort calling on the state to respond to the concerns of these locals. Other electeds named in the letter include state Senator Joe Addabbo, Councilman Bob Holden and Assembly members Cathy Nolan, Andrew Hevesi and Brian Barnwell.  

The Queens elected officials wrote the letter following the announcement that Port Authority will resume the environmental study for the Cross Harbor Freight Program, which was halted during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We understand the significance of these projects as well as the potential benefits they may provide to our city, including decongesting our streets, expanding public transit and reducing carbon emissions,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter. “But without prioritizing noise mitigation, these projects may prove detrimental to the health and quality of life of the surrounding communities.”

Residents near Mafera Park, and especially on Edsall Avenue in Glendale, have already been battling excessive noise from freight lines for years now. They claim that trains currently come by at odd hours of the night, blaring horns and slamming freight cars together. This creates incredible noise and shaking that some say is ruining the foundations of their homes.

Luis Ross lives 40 feet from the tracks on Edsall Avenue and said the noise, along with the deteriorating conditions of his street due to the rail line, have seriously impacted his quality of life.

“We can’t sleep. Me and my wife were going to stay in a hotel one time because it was affecting my heart,” Ross said. “We’re tired. We either have to move out or tell somebody about this.”

As residents still struggle with the noise from NYA lines, another freight rail running through the neighborhood could only exacerbate the problem.

“The Cross Harbor Freight Program and Interborough Express would drastically increase the train traffic through those already affected neighborhoods,” said the letter. “We must make sure they are built in a way that does not overburden and hurt the communities closest to these projects.”

The MTA’s Interborough Express is expected to be a blend of commuter railroads and the city’s subway train cars. Officials are still deciding whether or not to have a conventional rail, light rail or a bus rapid transit system.

Along the proposed 14-mile route, the train would pass by 17 existing subway stations.

Neither the governor’s office nor the Port Authority immediately responded to QNS’ request for comment.

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