THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Queens residents who would be impacted by the Cross Harbor Freight Program — which aims to take thousands of trucks off major roadways between New York and New Jersey — testified during Tuesday afternoon’s public hearing at Queens Borough Hall.

The Port Authority offered 10 proposals that consist of both rail tunnel and water options to move freight. Rail tunnel options can take anywhere from 111,000 to 157,000 trucks off the road daily in New York and New Jersey, while water options are estimated to take 17,000 to 30,000 trucks off the road daily, according to the Port Authority.

But the tunnel plans may have an adverse effect on the quality of life for people in the Glendale/Middle Village area as a high frequency of trains would pass through the neighborhoods via the Fresh Pond Rail Yard.

“This project is putting most of the burden on our community,” said Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano. “It may take trucks off the Hudson River Crossing but it would add more to Queens and the Bronx. This project is way out of line and all it is doing is transferring the problem.”

The tunnel proposals would likely result in the creation or expansion of intermodal facilities where goods are loaded or off-loaded between trains and small trucks. Previous Cross Harbor freight proposals called for such a facility in Maspeth, which Queens residents fear would be inundated with truck traffic.

“If the [traffic] situation is bad now, it’s only going to get worse if we don’t do anything about it,” said Mark Hoffer, project manager for the Cross Harbor Freight Program. “We are not against truck transportation, but we want to be able to move a greater amount of freight to locations and then have trucks pick it up and bring it to the destinations.”

Veronica Vanderpool, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, voiced her support for the project as she said it will greatly impact traffic and safety issues going on throughout New York City.

Five representatives from the Sandhog Union Local 147 talked about the benefits of the project for their own sake, as the project would create “good middle-class jobs that are the backbone of the city,” while dropping the union’s unemployment rate by 15 percent.

But Mary Parisen, chairperson of Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions (CURES), wants the Port Authority to not take any tunnel options into consideration as she said the option will not reduce traffic significantly since there would be more trucks on the road in neighborhoods such as Glendale, Middle Village and Maspeth.

The Port Authority will incorporate the comments into creating its final Environmental Impact Statement. The authority is projected to issue a “record of decision” and narrow its options from 10 to two by this summer. Immediately thereafter, a Tier 2 study would commence focusing on the potential effects associated with the specific facilities or activities of the final options and come up with specific mitigation measures.

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