They also bemoaned a recent resurgence of interest in the Cross Harbor Freight Movement Project, a freight tunnel system that would run 5.5 miles under New York Harbor from Sunset Park in Brooklyn to Greenville Yard in New Jersey, a plan originally proposed by U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan) in the 1990s but opposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.The project has been controversial in western Queens because it would construct a yard in West Maspeth where trains would unload freight onto trucks. Elected officials said Cross Harbor would add 16,000 trucks per day to Maspeth, but would also affect neighboring communities."It would remove truck traffic from Manhattan and New Jersey, but it will destroy the quality of life in Middle Village, Maspeth and Glendale," Councilman Dennis Gallagher (R-Middle Village) said. "I think we need to find a way to get trucks off the road, but the freight tunnel would be a disservice to middle-class western Queens communities that would bear the brunt of it."New York & Atlantic's main rail yard in Queens is Fresh Pond Junction in Glendale, where goods such as bricks, rice, beer, onions and lumber are unloaded.The rail line also operates a yard at Rust Street in Maspeth and the Jackson Avenue Team Yard in Long Island City, as well as sites in Brooklyn and Long Island. The rail line unloads goods at the Fresh Pond Yard and then transports them to other city locations.Queens officials said Cross Harbor would dump the majority of freight into Glendale and Maspeth."This is shamefully poor planning," Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano said. "This plan would put all the pressure on two communities."Juniper Park Civic Association President Robert Holden said the shipping industry is not likely to encourage an increase in rail use because shipping by truck is faster and cheaper. Holden is in favor of using city waterways to transport goods.Mark Westerfield, general superintendent at New York & Atlantic, said 2 percent of city goods are shipped by train as opposed to 98 percent shipped by truck. But he said rail business has grown steadily in recent years and that the railway has gone from 9,000 loads to 21,000 loads per year in the past 10 years. He said the railroad currently operates six trains per day."Most people would not be aware of an increase in railway business," he said. "Our desire is to do well by taking trucks off the streets and putting (goods) in boxcars."He said the rail line is in the process of receiving state money to repair and expand its operations. He said the line is at capacity right now, but has additional tracks on land owned by New York & Atlantic.The company has 10 years left on its exclusive contract with the Metropolitan Transit Authority and has the right to renew its contract for 20 more years, he said.
©2007 Community News Group
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