Why can't local politicians make CSX Railroad accountable? - JuniperCivic.com
Serving Middle Village and Maspeth since 1938.

Originally published in the June 2012 Juniper Berry Magazine

Why can't local politicians make CSX Railroad accountable?

Garbage train looking south from Caldwell Avenue to Eliot Avenue

Today, communities such as Middle Village and Glendale that have the railroad come through their neighborhoods are being placed in peril. With little to no announcement from our local politicians Senator Joseph Addabbo, Assemblywoman Margaret Markey and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, the railroad which is operated by CSX and NY & Atlantic is now transporting industrial garbage and other refuse right behind schools and homes. All of this was done without an impact study or any community involvement in this issue.

The residents who have the misfortune of having this new neighbor are experiencing diesel engine train movements at all ungodly hours. The most typical are 2 AM-4 AM as well as other times usually starting around 5 AM. This is just the morning runs! This once quiet residential community is now being overrun by corporate greed (CSX) and political malfeasance.

Little known is that our local high school, Christ the King, brought a lawsuit against these same people because they were leaving open exposed loaded garbage cars parked right behind the school. As expected, the garbage which was left in open cars in the hot sun was so disturbing that it caused students and faculty to get sick, hence the lawsuit. The case was settled out of court to the satisfaction of the High School. Since the case is sealed, you can read between the lines but one can only speculate that the railroad was legally wrong. The end result of the case was that the railroad moved their storage cars right behind our homes and other local schools.

It took four years of protesting to move the freight 400 feet farther south. The moving and repositioning of railcars currently starts in the early-AM Monday through Saturday and the process takes up to 2 hours to complete before they pull out. This still puts the locomotive activity directly behind our homes since the pull often starts with additional cars brought up from the rail yard that need to be positioned into place to start the eventual pull north. What this means to the entire community is that the noise pollution is exponentially increasing but so is the air pollution.

toxic diesel fumes

With every train movement two diesel engines or on occasion as many as five diesels are spewing toxic diesel fumes right into our communities and more importantly right behind schools such as Our Lady of Hope and PS 128. This trend has been on the increase and our asthma levels for the community will adversely affect both children and seniors as well.

All this garbage travels approximately 150-160 miles north to Selkirk, NY before it is then turned around to go south and ultimately ends up down in Waverly, Virginia. It could, however, be sent by barge to a depot that is closer and railed the rest of the way but the railroad does not want to do this because they make more money shipping it completely by rail. Middle Village was never built to handle the volume of rail they are planning. Our community was never designed for this usage.

no help from politicians

We have homes and schools literally feet from the tracks. The design was for light rail and now we are being morphed into a major industrial garbage transfer station. All of this is happening under the eyes of Senator Addabbo, (the departed) Anthony Weiner, Assemblywoman Marge Markey and Councilwoman Crowley. To date, they have not been able to get any real concessions from the railroad nor have they been able to secure moneys for the only true relief, which is sound barriers, and a complete cover for the community.

Our communities dotting the rail lines are constantly sparring with CSX over environmental and land use issues. The railroads conveniently hide behind federal protection. What is adding even further frustration is that we are now taking in Long Islands' garbage with the addition of five Brooklyn garbage districts too. The ineffectiveness of the Senator and Councilwoman to protect us is putting our community in peril. Long Island removes their noise and garbage and puts it right behind our schools and homes for us to see and breathe.

Recently, Waste Management applied to 'Renew and Modify' a permit to construct a nearby solid waste management facility to facilitate an increase of waste material up from 958 tons a day to 2,100 tons a day. The increased tonnage will more than double the traffic that is coming into our community. This is not just empty freight cars traveling in but a similar amount of outbound freight cars as well as an increase in locomotives used to make the pulls. Our leaders have been re-active to this issue by writing letters but this is not enough, there is an urgent need for them to be pro-active on this issue and do everything possible (including lead a protest) to remove / revoke CSX's permit. Enough is enough!

lead or get out of the way

Five years and counting and the situation has only gotten worse under our current leadership. While they have openly expressed a willingness to keep a dialogue there is rarely if ever any dialogue or communication by them on this issue. We have been put into an information vacuum. Responses are non-existent. Promoting alliances with other government leaders to get a resolution also is non-existent. Lead or get out of the way.

It is amazing that while the railroads have recently gotten a grant for the purchase of two newer locomotives (one for NY&A, one for CSX) there has been no commitment as to their usage. This will have very little effect on Middle Village as there is not enough of this technology on this line. There has been NOTHING spent on the surrounding community by them or by our government to alleviate the assault on our way of life. It was strongly urged that a cover as well as moving the switch be implemented but there isn't any money. CSX and NY&A, however, walk away with two locomotives!

What the rest of Middle Village residents do not understand is that even though you may not be currently affected by the unrelenting noise you are still breathing the pollution...noise, foul odors, and diesel fumes which are constantly being spewed into our air.

As the freight pulls have been getting longer, it is noticeable that the locomotives are idling farther and farther north and in greater quantity. As asthma levels increase and the word spreads that we have now transformed into an ever-growing garbage transfer station this will have a dramatic impact on everyone's home values. This is why we who live along the track lines constantly bring this topic up at every Juniper Park Civic Association meeting. It is that important to all yet our elected officials don't want to discuss these other issues for fear it will have an impact on them. If they can't get the job done then it is time to find someone else who can get us relief and protect our way of life and it's called Election Day!

June 2012 Juniper Berry Magazine

June 2012 Table of Contents