Thursday, April 15, 2010

Waste Management Bows to Pressure, Amends Trash Hauling Plan

Eliminates 1.5 Mile Truck Trip to Maspeth Rail Yard

By Conor Greene

Residents can breathe a sign of relief now that Waste Management has agreed to amend its trash-hauling plan to avoid running trucks between the company’s Review Avenue transfer station and the Maspeth Rail Yard.

As part of the city’s Solid Waste Management Plan, the company is converting its Review Avenue transfer station so that it can utilize the nearby railroad in order to cut down on long-distance truck trips, which are currently needed to get the trash out of the city. While the plan would greatly reduce the overall amount distance driven by 2.2 million miles per year, it would have required multiple trips daily between the transfer station and the rail yard - thus increasing truck traffic in West Maspeth.

That aspect of the plan wasn’t well received by residents or elected officials, who instead urged Waste Management to build a rail spur on its property or utilize the nearby Newton Creek and barge the trash out of the area. Company officials determined there wasn’t enough room on the site to build a rail spur. However, this week, Waste Management announced the plan has been modified to instead utilize New York & Atlantic Railway’s Blissville Yard, which can be accessed exclusively on private roads.

“Following an extensive analysis, we have modified our plan to eliminate the need to move rail containers over city streets, virtually eliminating any traffic impacts,” a company spokeswoman said in a statement. “Our revised plan will eliminate the city’s export of residential waste in long-haul tractor trailer trucks from Western Queens, reducing traffic and vehicle emissions.”

Under the revised plan, Waste Management will receive and containerize residential waste collected from neighborhoods within community boards one through six at the Review Avenue site. The waste would then be driven 2,000 feet west on private roads adjacent to the Long Island Railroad tracks, to the Blissville Yard. There, containers will be loaded onto railcars, which will be moved to the Fresh Pond Yard daily. From there, they will be connected to a CSX long-haul train for transport to landfills outside the city.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), who was involved in the fight to convince Waste Management to amend its plan, called the announcement a “victory” for the neighborhood, as garbage trucks will no longer use Review Avenue. “The change is a step in the right directions. It shows Waste Management is listening and we need to keep the focus on the needs of Maspeth residents.”

Overall, the plan will end the city’s export of 1,200 tons per day of residential trash by truck from Western Queens, eliminating the impact on local roads, the company boasted in a press release announcing the amended plan. The city’s solid waste plan, which was issued in 2006, seeks to ensure each borough is responsible for handling its own waste and to shift trash export from a truck-based system to a rail and barge based system.

The expanded Review Avenue facility will be able to handle up to 2,100 tons per day and will typically receive about 1,150 tons of trash per day. Currently it has a capacity of 958 tons per day, and the original expansion plan would have required about 65 round trip truck trips each day between Review Avenue and the Maspeth Rail Yard.

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