2015-04-15 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Cross Harbor Freight

A copy of this letter was received at the
Queens Gazette.
March 20, 2015
Jonathan D. McDade, Region Admin.
Federal Highway Administration
Leo W. O’Brien Federal Building
11A Clinton Avenue, Suite 719
Albany, NY 12207
Mark D. Hoffer, Dir. New Port Initiatives
Port Authority of NY and NJ
225 Park Ave. South, 11th Floor
New York, New York 10003

Dear Mr. McDade and Mr. Hoffer:

I want to take this opportunity to comment on the Tier One Environmental Impact Statement for the Cross Harbor Freight Study and express my concern about the potential adverse impact for my constituents of the proposed alternatives that have been presented for study.

These alternatives presented have a very familiar sound. Some of them didn’t make sense to many of us when we first discussed them many years ago and I don’t see that our old objections have been properly addressed now, particularly those related to the rail tunnel proposal, which specifically puts a negative bulls-eye on my Maspeth/Middle Village communities where the principal NYC freight rail yard is located.

We have a lot of experience with trucks and trains in our local Community District 5 area of Queens. We know about health and safety issues caused by truck traffic and rail train movements in and adjacent to the residential and commercial areas of our communities. For many of the neighborhoods in my district, some of the options you are studying present the threat of making existing problems we already experience even worse.

Mitigation of current noise and pollution issues has been largely unsuccessful, and planned, scheduled increases in rail freight movements of municipal waste on the narrow rail corridor through our communities is certain to make existing matters even worse. As you move to the Tier Two phase of your study and project future impacts, it is imperative that there be a thorough scientific benchmark examination of existing environmental conditions that also takes into account the already-scheduled increase in rail traffic.

Another concern that needs to be addressed in Tier Two is a more focused study of specific community impacts of locations for truck distribution centers that your draft study says will be required for most of the alternatives. We need your study to look at potential locations where they might be, how the neighboring communities will be impacted, and what mitigation you propose.

My local Community District 5 area already faces a severe impact from current operations on rail lines that pass through many of our communities and from truck traffic on residential and shopping streets. The freight tunnel alternatives you are examining will create a heightened threat if those alternatives are pursued. I agree with Community Board 5 that the marine-based alternatives present the most acceptable options for my neighborhoods.

As this study moves to the next phase, I ask you to fully engage with local elected officials and responsible civic organizations here to fully understand the challenges we already face from trucks and train traffic and to explain how you might implement any plan in a way that mitigates its impact on us. Your study’s mission for meeting future demands for Cross Harbor truck traffic may be a laudable goal, but my local Queens neighborhoods must not be unfairly forced to pay the price to achieve it.

Respectfully,
Margaret M. Markey
Member of the Assembly, 30th District
• • •

A copy of this letter was received at the
Queens Gazette.
March 17, 2015
Mark D. Hoffer, Dir. New Port Initiatives
Port Authority of NY and NJ
225 Park Ave. South, 11th Floor
New York, New York 10003

Dear Mr. Hoffer:

Please let this letter serve as my public comments for the Port Authority’s Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement in regard to the Cross Harbor Plan. As currently written, the plan is simply unworkable and unacceptable and would lead to a significant amount of increased truck traffic in our local neighborhoods in Queens.

The Tier 1 draft attempts to reduce truck traffic by listing 10 alternatives that are placed into two categories, five for freight alternatives and five for water-based options. Both civic and community groups including Queens Community Board 5 have expressed concern about many of these transportation alternatives. More specifically, the proposed construction of a rail tunnel between Greenville Yards in New Jersey and Bay Ridge would significantly move traffic northward to the Fresh Pond Rail Yard. This situation is very concerning because the rail yard is already running at capacity and is the only yard that connects Long Island with the rest of the country.

The construction of the rail tunnel would also bring additional trains and possibly an intermodal facility in Maspeth where goods would be offloaded between trucks and trains. I strongly oppose this plan. With no plans to protect the surrounding community from the severe impacts, I am very concerned about how the increased train and truck traffic would be accommodated as a result of the Cross Harbor Plan.

While the Port Authority should be properly motivated by the need to reduce highway congestion and eliminate traffic delays in the region, I believe it is critical that the alternatives/solutions not further erode the quality of life for the residents in our local communities. Several of these communities that I represent, which include Ridgewood and Maspeth, would be severely impacted by the increased train and truck traffic that would result from the construction of the proposed cross harbor rail tunnel.

I urge the Port Authority to re-think these alternatives and come up with a real plan that reduces congestion, the production of greenhouse gases, and upgrades our infrastructure, while also ensuring that the quality of life for our community is not seriously diminished.

Sincerely,
Catherine Nolan
Assemblymember
37th District
cc: John J. Degnan, Chairman, and Board
of Commissioners, Port Authority
Patrick J. Foye, Executive Director, Port
Authority
• • •

A copy of this letter was received at the
Queens Gazette.
March 20, 2015
Mark D. Hoffer
Director, New Port Initiatives
Port Commerce Department Port Authority
of New York and New Jersey
225 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003

Mr. Hoffer:

As the New York City Councilmember representing the Queens communities of Maspeth, Ridgewood, Middle Village, Glendale, Woodhaven and Woodside, I write to express my ardent opposition to the Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed Cross Harbor Freight Program. No matter how one spins this proposal, my district will be negatively impacted from two separate geographical fronts–disproportionately hampering the quality of life of thousands of my hardworking constituents.

While the proposal is still in its nascent stages, the Port Authority must understand the broad and immediate implications of moving this proposal forward in any form. While I understand the state’s need to enhance the transportation of freight across New York Harbor, I am extremely concerned about plans in the DEIS for the Fresh Pond Rail Terminal and the Maspeth Yard.

A key component of the proposal would increase freight volume along the Lower Montauk Line, particularly at the Fresh Pond Rail Terminal – which is currently utilized by the Long Island Rail Road, CSX, Waste Management, and New York & Atlantic Railway for freight operations and already poses critical challenges for surrounding residential communities. Freight currently passes through the Fresh Pond Terminal 24 hours a day. The outdated tracks and locomotives at the terminal produce excessive noise late at night, vibrations that have been known to damage homes, and harmful air pollution that spews into surrounding residential communities.

For years, our community has fought for upgrades to the existing rail infrastructure, including new locomotive engines, and the state has repeatedly tossed our concems aside. I cannot support a plan that will exacerbate the existing conditions at Fresh Pond, especially given the state’s dismal and unresponsive record at the terminal.

Additionally, the DEIS calls for intermodal shipping facilities and warehouses, and requires new locations to break down all freight brought into the city and load them onto trucks. One such location identified by the DEIS is Maspeth Yard, once again in my district.

Both alternatives of the Cross Harbor proposal call for the expansion of this railtruck terminal. Under a waterborne plan, the Maspeth Yard rail truck terminal would be as large as 20 acres; and under the tunnel alternative, that expansion could be as large as 70 acres.

The traffic caused by trucks traveling from the Maspeth Industrial Business Zone (IBZ) to the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE) and Long Island Expressway (LIE) has already been a crippling quality of life issue in my district for years. In fact, the traffic has reached such a critical mass that in 20ll, the NYC Department of Transportation developed the Maspeth Bypass Plan – which redesigned streets and shifted truck traffic away from Grand and Flushing Avenues to a preferred bypass route that connects to the highways without passing through residential Maspeth.

However, the proposed Cross Harbor truck rail terminal at Maspeth Yard will only make this traffic worse, and undo any progress we have made to move trucks off of residential streets. By any estimate or alternative, an expanded truck rail terminal in Maspeth will bring hundreds of additional trucks each day through my district, which is frankly not feasible and unsustainable, given the current street infrastructure constraints.

I stand firmly with my neighbors and colleagues in government in opposing the Cross Harbor Freight Program and the disastrous toll it would inevitably take on our community.

Sincerely,
Elizabeth Crowley
Councilmember, 30th District

Worse Than NAFTA

To The Editor:

Currently, two trade agreements are being negotiated; the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Along with these, Congress is considering a “Fast Track” negotiating authority for the president called Trade Promotion Authority to rush these trade agreements through. In a letter I received from Congresswoman Grace Meng, she states her support for these so the U.S. can “compete in an increasingly globalized world”. NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) was mentioned as a forerunner to these other trade agreements.

These are some of my thoughts. Congress has a constitutional responsibility to regulate foreign trade; it cannot be given over to the president which would cause an imbalance of power. We send our representatives to Washington to represent our interests. These trade agreements relegate trade matters to international trade commissions which will decide and manage our trade (an example is the NAFTA commission). This undercuts our sovereignty; our ability to make decisions for ourselves. These make decisions routinely which are not favorable to the U.S. The American people lose their voice in these agreements and our economy suffers. Recently, legislation requiring country of origin on products was scuttled because of a trade commission ruling. If NAFTA hasn’t helped us, would we want more of the same? Since it doesn’t benefit the American people, who does it benefit? How should our representatives be representing us or are they? I suggest you write your representatives and tell them you don’t want “Fast Track” Trade Promotion Authority for the president. Also, perhaps it would be good to tell them not to make trade agreements since they, like NAFTA, have harmed us and not helped.

Vytautas Vileniskis
Fresh Meadows

Tribute To Maryalice

To The Editor:

A good friend of our community passed away recently. Maryalice Broussard lived in Auburndale for decades and was a Vice President of the Auburndale Improvement Association. She was very active in the civic organization for many years and remained so right up to her death. She left us on March 30 at the age of 92, after a brief illness.

Just a few weeks ago, there was an executive board meeting of Auburndale Improvement Association held at Maryalice’s home. This remarkable woman was still contributing ideas and thoughts to ensure that her community remained a desirable place to live for all the residents. She was concerned about zoning, about education, about quality of life – any issue that had an impact in Auburndale and beyond. She truly was a role model that showed that even though a person may be up in years, one could still be a contributing member of the community and an articulate voice of reason and common sense.

Maryalice was also the editor of the newsletter that comes out five times a year from Auburndale Improvement Association. She read through the drafts submitted, consolidated content and corrected grammar and spelling where needed. She always read through the local newspapers finding articles of interest that could be summarized in the newsletter. She also found humorous stories and jokes to include in the newsletter’s “On the Lighter Side” column, because she felt that people enjoyed them and that it was important to laugh amid all of life’s issues and problems.

Maryalice will be much missed by her loving family, devoted friends and especially her civic friends. She was a woman of incredible strength, wisdom and integrity. She believed in the traditional values of hard work, good citizenship and devotion to family, friends and the Lord. May my friend rest in peace.

Henry Euler
Bayside

A Right To Know

To The Editor:

I agree that the citizens of our city should have input and a say in what our taxpayer money is being spent on in terms of the city capital budget.

I also think that our Mayor and Senator were so right when they stood at the R train station on Broadway near City Hall saying that mass transit repairs are not private, but it is our fedral government that has to refill the mass transit and highway funding.

I also agree that foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients must be labeled. We all have a right to know what we are eating.

Also it is shameful that the court suspended the sentence of the man who left his son in the car for seven hours to die during a hot July day last year.

Also corruption in our government must be taken care of and there must be term limits for US Senate and House terms, since all must have a chance to serve in these lawmaking positions.

Lastly, we must congratulate our former mayor, Michael Bloomberg for being knighted by the Queen of England.

Cynthia Groopman
Little Neck

Honoring Eagles

To The Editor:

I would like to report that there was an Eagle Scout award ceremony at St. Anastasia Parish in Father Smith Hall on March 14. Scout Troup 153 inducted two new Eagle Scouts: John P. Eckatz and Frederic P. Jean-Joseph. St. Anastasia Knights of Columbus Council 5911 presented both young men with certificates from the New York State Knights of Columbus, two patches, and $100 each. They were presented by council member Vincent Lino Jr. They have both demonstrated a dedication to the Boy Scouts, their religious faith and to the community. Remember this too: Today’s Boy Scouts are tomorrow’s leaders.

Frederick R. Bedell Jr.
Glen Oaks Village

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