LIC residents still angry at LIRR

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Two months after starting a petition drive to deal with the noise of idling Long Island Rail Road locomotives, residents of some of the newer residential buildings in Long Island City are not getting any relief.

“The MTA is not going to do anything. It’s just crazy,” said Community Board 2 Chairman Joseph Conley. “The only dead trees around are by the railroad. The noise is just incredible inside the new building. I don’t know how people live there.”

The railyard, which sits near the entrance to the Queens-Midtown Tunnel is usually home to numerous LIRR diesel locomotives that idle between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.

“I work at nights most of the time and the idling is so loud and unbearable during the day that I cannot get any rest,” resident Andrea Modica wrote on the online petition to the LIRR. “Also, when I come home in the early morning there is constant idling, making it hard to get to sleep. It is a residential area and this needs to stop.”

City Council candidates Deirdre Feerick and David Rosasco have signed on to the petition. Feerick promised to “work with the MTA and LIRR to find a solution to this problem.”

LIRR spokesman Sal Arena said it takes an hour to shut down one of the diesel locomotives and up to two hours to start it back up again.

The federal government also requires an inspection of a train’s air brake lines if the engine has been shut off more than four hours. Arena said the railroad has implemented a computerized “Smart Start” management system to coordinate this on its switching engines and someday hopes to expand it to passenger locomotives.

The century-old railyard is the terminus of the non-electrified Montauk, Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson and Greenport lines because diesel locomotives are not allowed in the tunnels under Manhattan, much to the chagrin of residents of the 12-story, 132-unit condo tower One Hunters Point, which opened its doors at 549 Borden Ave. in late February just across the street.

Many of the 75 petition signatures came from residents of that building, though other signers said they lived in the Citylights building. There are now at least seven major residential developments either completed or under construction within three blocks of the railyard.

The petition’s anonymous authors said residents have asked the railroad to try keeping the engines farther east, away from the residential buildings, staggering locomotives on parallel tracks or installing other noise-reducing features in the yard.

“While many of us have complained on an individual basis, it is our fear that we are powerless in that capacity,” the petition reads.

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

Posted 6:31 pm, October 10, 2011
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