Two of the diesel engines that run on tracks cutting through Middle Village, Ridgewood and Glendale will get a state-of-the-art,low-emissions upgrade by 2013.
Thanks to a grant from Environmental Protection Agency’s National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program, New York will get $2 million to upgrade the engines operating out of the Fresh Pond Terminal railyard in Glendale.
The EPA, New York City Economic Development Corporation, New York City Department of Sanitation, and New YorkCity Department of Small Business Services made the announcement on Dec. 13.
These locomotives will remain in the freightrail network and will be transformed in partnership with CSX Transportation and the joint work of the New York & Atlantic Railwayand Waste Management of New York.
The upgrade replaces each conventional diesel engine with several smaller generators that can be activated when the locomotive is working at full power and deactivated when their power is not needed.
EPA officials say these two conversionswill save an estimated 31,000 gallons of fuel each year and remove an expected 32 tons ofnitrogen oxides and 0.64 tons of particulate matter from the air annually. Removing 32tons of nitrogen oxides from the air is the equivalent of taking more than 4,300 personal automobiles off of the road each year.
The joint release credited local lawmakers Congressman Jerry Nadler, Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Council Member JamesVacca, and Council Member James Gennarowith winning the grant.
Sanitation Commissioner John J. Doherty said, “This innovative grant is consistent with the city’s approved Solid Waste Management Plan, which changes the way the city manages solid waste by moving from a truckbased export system to a predominantly railand barge based export system. The repowering of these two locomotives will make railexport cleaner and more energy efficient.”
The announcement comes after morethan a year of pushing from a local advocacy group trying to improve quality of life near the rails.
Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions bound together local civic organizations and politicians with districts around the tracks.
The announcement brought praise from CURES but also a reminder that there’s more work to be done.
“These two new locomotives are a great start,” Co-Chair Mary Parisen said. “The old high polluting LIRR/MTA locomotives also need to be upgraded. There are 11 at FreshPond Terminal (leased to New York & AtlanticRailway). So far, the LIRR/MTA hasrefused to participate in grant applications for new locomotives, including this successful application.
“These are the oldest locomotives in thestate and they are being used in NYC wherethey do the most harm to the most people,including our families in Queens. US EPARegion 2 has called these engines the ‘lowhanging fruit’ of diesel locomotive emissionsreduction in New York State.”
Parisen noted that all of the freight to and from Brooklyn and Long Island must pass through Fresh Pond Terminal. With themove away from truck transport, CURES says the only permanent solution will befinding other routes—including waterborne ones.
By Jeremiah Dobruck