Some trash to be removed from rail tracks, says MTA

There is some rare good news about the piles of garbage that sit for months at a time down by the rail tracks that lay along 64th and 65th Streets between Fourth and Eighth Avenues: the unsightly stacks will be removed, with work slated to start at the end of February.

However, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is only responsible for the area on the north side – the Sunset Park side – of the rail tracks and 65th Street. The south side, in Bay Ridge and under the jurisdiction of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) –is leased to New York and Atlantic Railway, so that there has been ongoing debate in the past as to who is responsible for maintaining the tracks.

The clean-up decision was made within days of MTA officials going on a walking tour to the site with Community Board Seven District Manager Jeremy Laufer, who sent them a letter in early February requesting that the agency conduct a property search to find out if they were indeed responsible for the track’s maintenance.

Laufer pointed out that the clean-up was needed for two main reasons: cleanliness and public safety. “There is the filthy nature of the area and the fact that folks are gaining access to the property,” he explained.

The piece of land stretches from beneath the Gowanus Expressway to shopping strips on Eighth and Fourth Avenues, which see heavy foot and vehicle traffic on a daily basis. For Marjorie Campos, who views the mess practically every day on her way to and from work, the clean-up is welcome news.

“Right on the side of the supermarket [at 65th Street and Eighth Avenue], over the fence, you can see all the garbage,” said Campos, who was one of many residents who complained repeatedly about the situation to CB 7. “It has become a health issue with the rats. And there are homeless people who go inside the fence.”

According to MTA representatives, the clean-up will take a few weeks to complete, during which the agency says it will consider whether to repair or replace the broken wire fencing which show signs of being used as an entryway onto the tracks.

Josephine Beckmann, district manager of CB 10 in Bay Ridge, has sent a letter requesting that the LIRR perform similar maintenance and clean-up. She will also be sending a request to the New York and Atlantic Railway.

Both Beckmann and Laufer note that the unsanitary conditions build up every 12 to 18 months and are a long-term issue, but hope that now that the MTA and LIRR know who is responsible for which sections, clean-ups will be more frequent.

“It becomes like that every couple of years over the course of time,” explained Laufer. “We have had certain portions of it cleaned up but never the whole thing at one time.”

“The last time we asked for a cleaning was back in December of 2010,” added Beckmann. “It might take a while, but I think it’ll get done.”

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