Dear Governor Hochul,

We are writing to ask you to take the opportunity of your Climate Change, IBX, and Cross Harbor Freight marine initiatives to clean up filthy, toxic, and excessively noisy freight rail and waste-by-rail operations. Outmoded freight rail in the MTA right of way is needlessly harming more than a million and a half residents of NYC and Greater Long Island. It is within your power to realize promises to protect residents made by MTA-LIRR in 1997, and the promise of freight rail and waste-by-rail as more Sustainable and “green” transportation and waste management modes that cut greenhouse gas emissions and improve public health. We most respectfully ask you to help families Downstate and Upstate by:

– Supporting health and safety legislation to contain all waste, blowoff, leachate, odors, and spillage in transfer stations and rail cars. Problems like NYC’s Alabama “Poop Train” and “smells like death” stench from Norfolk Southern cars in Mechanicville result from use of rail cars that don’t contain putrescible waste and odors for as long as it takes to get to their destination. Filthy waste blowoff, leachate, and odors come from transfer stations with three walls and a roof and open rail cars that are used for construction and demolition debris. Senator Addabbo got containerization legislation passed in the Senate, but it stalled in the Assembly.

– Directing MTA-LIRR to retake control of trackage ceded to the New York & Atlantic Railway through the 5th Amendment to the Transfer Agreement, and work with the city to upgrade crossing protection, establish a Quiet Zone, improve safety and security, and clean up the right of way. Through changes in operations and reconfiguration and construction of trackage get car storage and all-night freight moves out of neighborhoods. When NYA’s 10-year extension ends, put LIRR’s freight concession out to bid.

– Directing MTA-LIRR to restart LIRR’s stalled repowering of high-polluting 1970’s diesel switcher locomotives as a straightforward Tier 4 repower of existing locomotives, such as the PANY-NJ accomplished in 2015 and Waste Management did in 2018. This will remove more than 95% of toxic diesel locomotive pollution and use 40% less fuel. Systemwide, Tier 4 switcher repowering has the potential to remove the NOx of more a million cars from the MTA right of way. The Legislature has given LIRR $27M since 2013 to repower the New York & Atlantic Railway’s fleet. Under your Administrations these funds are finally in Comptroller’s Contract #DR36644! Please give these harms your most serious consideration and help us.

Mary Parisen-Lavelle
Co-chair, CURES