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Residents off a stretch of Otto Road backing up to a rail yard may be getting some relief from fumes and noise with the procurement of modern engines.

Two elected officials representing Glendale and Middle Village are working with environmentalists to oversee the procurement of cleaner, quieter diesel engines for the Fresh Pond Railyard in Glendale.

With two Tier 4 diesel engines already purchased and three more in the request for proposal (RFP) process, state Senator Joseph Addabbo and Assemblyman Mike Miller are also calling better oversight of $3 million in state funds.

Both elected officials issued letters to Long Island Rail Road President Phil Eng to ensure the switches in procurement to be used in the yard under lease by the New York & Atlantic Railway were acquired with transparency.

“There are a lot of complaints about noise in different parts of the line that goes as far as Middle Village, there are complaints about the idling of the engines, there’s complaints about the smell that comes out of the engines,” Miller said. “Sometimes [the trains] are parked along the line and back up to homes and that causes issues.”

Each year the state has put forth $3 million for the engines over the last six years.

Although New York & Atlantic lease the property, the LIRR are in charge of maintaining the yard and providing engines, such as the Tier 4 Switch Duty Cycle diesel.

“Previous procurement procedures hace been questioned and scrutinized,” Addabbo said in an Oct. 22 letter to Eng. “I am personally working on this issue because I believe in, and have voted for, funding to secure the short and long term health benefits of locomotives that give my constituents the cleanest Tier 4 emissions. The results of the procurement process will have a direct impact on the lives of my constituents.”

LIRR spokesman said Eng’s drive to replace NYAR’s eight engines with as little turn around time as possible was representative of the LIRR president’s “‘Let’s get it done’ Philosophy.”

“This had been a long-standing issue, and we were able to take measures now to help resolve it,” Donovan said.

Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions (CURES), led by Mary Parisen as a co-founder, has been working to pressure the LIRR and the NYAR to replace the engines she claimed in Sept. 24 MTA meeting choke residents which exhaust fume in their own homes.

Miller said while two of the Tier 4 engines are already on the way, three more are still in the RFP process.

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Mary Parisen, Chair December 02, 2018 / 12:26AM
Correction: LIRR's fleet of unregulated, Non-Tier locomotives -- including those NYAR uses -- pollute like 1.2 million cars. The four locomotives NYAR is refurbishing for use at Fresh Pond Yard pollute like 120,000 cars. See this slide from Diesel Technology Forum.
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Mary Parisen, Chair November 29, 2018 / 06:31PM
There is one state-of-the-art Tier 4 Switch Duty Cycle locomotive at Fresh Pond Yard today, and no more are on order. The US EPA Certified, California Air Resources Board Verified Tier 4 Switcher locomotive was manufactured by Knoxville Locomotive Works. Waste Management purchased the locomotive with a $1 million US EPA grant that was obtained by the NYC Economic Development Corporation. WM provided a generous cash match. LIRR had nothing to do with this purchase. In fact, LIRR refused to participate when NYC EDC asked them to. The new Tier 4 Switcher is a "mother-slug" locomotive that eliminates 95% of diesel pollution compared to the 1970's freight locomotives the New York & Atlantic Railway and LIRR use today. Now our Senator Addabbo and our Assemblyman Miller are asking LIRR to replace all the old switcher locomotives NYAR is using with new Tier 4 locomotives that are as clean or cleaner than what Waste Management bought. State funding is available to purchase at least four Tier 4 Switch Duty Cycle locomotives in a Tier 4 locomotive procurement LIRR has underway. Since 2013, Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi has successfully led funding requests to replace NYAR's locomotives -- a total of $18 million to date. The way LIRR's procurement is written only two NYAR locomotives will be replaced (when there are NYS appropriations available for at least four) and LIRR might buy locomotives that will pollute excessively when MTA, the Governor's office, and President Eng promised to buy the cleanest Tier 4 locomotives. To make matters worse, LIRR staff violated Public Authorities Law and sold four of the old locomotives to NYAR for just $43,400 (three of them in 2017 for just $4,000 each) -- when they were worth up to @ $1 million. Worse still, NYAR is getting the four locomotives refurbished for use at Fresh Pond Yard indefinitely. These four ancient locomotives pollute like 1.3 million cars. Why should neighborhoods of Queens have to endure this when citizens and elected officials have worked for a decade so money is available to buy locomotives that eliminate 95% of this pollution?! Fortunately, LIRR President Phil Eng hired an independent consultant to investigate LIRR's fouled up Tier 4 locomotive procurement after Senator Addabbo, Assemblyman Miller, and Assemblywoman Nolan wrote to him and past MTA Chairman Joe Lhota. There are a total of eight possible locomotives in the current RFP, but current purchasing is only for two, and maybe not the right kind. This is a 100% publicly financed procurement and state funding was given to replace locomotives a private company uses in order to improve public health -- not so private companies could milk the MTA and taxpayers without regard for adverse health impacts on Queens neighborhoods. It's up to the MTA Board and President Eng to get this procurement on track and keep the promises that were made to elected officials and citizens who have worked so hard so families and railroad workers can breathe cleaner air for the next 30 - 40 years.
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