The tunnel project is the only realistic way to bring funds into Boro Park for mitigating the environmental impact of the inevitably greater number of trains that are coming. With mitigation funds from the tunnel project, we can clean up the right-of-way, insist on installation of quiet welded track, install sound-baffling walls, and, perhaps, even cover completely some segments of the line – eliminating the noise entirely.
I have firsthand experience living near rail lines. That is why I have spent decades studying ways to build transportation projects that improve the quality of life for all those who stand to benefit. Many other rail lines in the United States have been upgraded so as not to disturb the surrounding community. With modern technology, there is no reason any community should be left out. Brooklyn shouldn’t be left out either.
We have a choice. Without the tunnel project, we can watch commercial interests use existing rail floats to increase substantially the number of daily freight trains – without any requirement for environmental impact statements or approvals and without any noise mitigation. Or, we can insist on real protection for the community as part of the rail freight tunnel project.
Elected and community leaders who oppose the tunnel project are supporting a major increase in train traffic through Boro Park without any resources to ameliorate the impact on the community. It is never a good idea for elected officials to think they’re protecting their community by burying their heads in the sand and ignoring or refusing to recognize what’s happening around them.
The bottom line is that, if we work together, the Cross Harbor Tunnel’s impact on Brooklyn will be only positive. We have a tremendous amount to gain by undertaking this project, and very little to lose. My constituents’ quality of life is of crucial importance to me. That’s why I have supported the Cross Harbor Tunnel – to alleviate the increasing truck traffic that is making life worse. And it is why every environmental group in the City supports the tunnel.
We have a responsibility to do what we can to improve our communities and our city. We must act to stop the growing influx of big trucks from tearing apart New York, and to reduce our vulnerability to terrorism. It’s been a long journey, and we’ve made a lot of headway. Now that we’re poised to enter the next phase of development of this essential project, it’s incumbent on all of us to work constructively to see that its final design incorporates all the protections our communities need.
Hysterical opposition could result either in a tunnel project without the community protections we should cooperatively insist upon, or in increased rail float traffic with no community protections at all. We know what Councilman Felder is against – but what is he for?