Today’s news:

Boro rail depot plan revived

The controversial Cross Harbor Freight Tunnel plan is picking up steam again, raising eyebrows and hackles in Maspeth and Glendale.

An invitation-only meeting of stakeholders in the massive rail proposal was slated to be held Wednesday in Manhattan, Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano said.

“That is an enormous issue for us,” he said, noting the previous plan entailed bringing between 20 and 40 trains a day through the tunnel and into Queens for unloading. “It really would have done tremendous damage to Glendale and to Maspeth especially. And it would have been a big problem for a lot of the communities along the way.”

The rail tunnel would connect Newark to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, but a Long Island Rail Road-owned line would bring the railcars up to the Maspeth yards, where the cargo would be transferred to trucks at a storage facility described as being at least 10 stories high and then driven throughout the five boroughs and Long Island.

“The trains would all come into Glendale, the cars would be recoupled in Glendale, which is in my opinion physically impossible for the amount of turf we have over here,” Giordano said.

The project was initially proposed by the city Economic Development Corp., but the reins were handed over to the Port Authority in 2007. Things were relatively quiet until November 2008, when the Port Authority announced it was commissioning an environmental impact study for the project. That study is due in late 2010.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg raised the profile of the project in July during a news conference on the Brooklyn waterfront with U.S. Rep. Jerold Nadler (D-Brooklyn), who has championed the freight tunnel.

The mayor called the plan “a great long-term solution, provided that it is financially supportable and the local impacts can be adequately mitigated. For our part, the city is supporting Congressman Nadler and Sen. Schumer’s efforts to secure the necessary federal funding.”

Bloomberg’s comments brought a mild rebuke from City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), who said she opposed any plan that would put a major truck depot in Maspeth.

“If the mayor and the Port Authority are going to take a serious look at this proposal, they have to come up with a plan to share the burden with Brooklyn, Long Island and the other destinations for cross harbor freight,” she said. “The current plan is bad for our community and only moves truck traffic from Manhattan to Queens and that is unacceptable.”

U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills), who in 2004 said he opposed the tunnel plan but included it among four traffic mitigation recommendations in a 2007 report, did not return a request for comment by press time Tuesday.

U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Ridgewood) was also unavailable for comment.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jewalsh@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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