Civic organizations and the New York League of Conservation Voters joined a team of state and city politicians last week to announce $3 million in additional state funding towards the renovation of outdated freight locomotives, on top of the $3 million brought in last year to continue the pilot sustainability project.
“This announcement is great news for millions of New York City residents who will soon be able to breathe a little easier,” said Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley. “These important green locomotives will help clean our air and bring our aging fleets into the 21st century. I applaud the New York State legislature for their ongoing leadership in this fight.”
While the current 11-car fleet meets 1970’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) toxic emissions standards, the additional funding is enough to overhaul another LIRR freight train to meet current Tier 4 emissions standards.
New Tier 4 engines can reduce nitrogen oxide emissions, a byproduct of diesel engines linked to respiratory illnesses, by nearly 76 percent or up to 120 tons over the course of 10 years.
“With this additional state funding, and the first overhauled freight locomotive set to come on-line later this year, it is encouraging that great strides are being made to fight for, and protect, the health of countless families in the boroughs of New York and Long Island,” said Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi.
Signed by 80 members of the Assembly, and with bipartisan support from both chambers of the legislature, Hevesi said he is confident the new locomotive is the right investment in the battle against pollution.
“This funding further demonstrates that clean rail transport is a priority for New York State,” he said.
Mary Parisen, co-founder of Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions (CURES), first began the fight in her community to cut back on the noise and smells coming from the tracks in the Glendale community.
“We needed to advocate to the Senate, we had to make calls to the chair in the Transportation Committee, and we had to ask for their continued support since last year,” Parisen said. “Today, I am so happy to say that they acknowledged the problem and it’s going to get even more funding.”
Parisen added that her ongoing work with Hevesi has been one of the key reasons why any funding has come in at all.
“We as citizens can become advocates, but without the support of government officials, we can’t go anywhere,” she said.