What happened to the $3M for idling trains?

MTA promises Patchogue Village track work is still planned

Nicole Fuentes
Posted 7/22/21

Back in 2018, former assemblyman Dean Murray, then-assemblyman, now congressman Andrew Garbarino and Sen. John Flanagan announced a total of $3 million awarded to the Patchogue Village train station …

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What happened to the $3M for idling trains?

MTA promises Patchogue Village track work is still planned

Posted

Back in 2018, former assemblyman Dean Murray, then-assemblyman, now congressman Andrew Garbarino and Sen. John Flanagan announced a total of $3 million awarded to the Patchogue Village train station through a state capital investment project to quell idling train noise.

“The primary responsibility of any elected official is to be responsive to the needs of constituents, and idling trains are one of the most important factors impacting the quality of life for those living near the station,” said Murray at the time.

For nearly a decade, Garbarino’s office heard about the issue of idling trains. Academy Street resident Bob Goodhue has been the “squeaky wheel” in an effort to finally see the project through. He claims the issue has been ongoing, dating back to the ‘80s.

The issue, Goodhue said, seemed to be resolved or lessened about a year ago, however, as of Memorial Day, the idling trains have been worse than ever. 

The trains, he said, idle by his home and others for about 15 minutes up to a half an hour on any given weekday, but come Saturday and Sunday they idle pretty much all day. Saturdays a train is there for about an hour at noon and between 10 a.m. and 3-4 p.m. On Sundays, he said, the train can be there nearly all afternoon.

"It’s a quality of life issue. I've got a front porch I can't sit on," he said. "I can't open my windows because of the fumes and I have cracks in the ceilings."

Noise complaints and other quality-of-life issues associated with idling locomotives were to be addressed through the investment, which, according to the MTA, was going to add a new rail siding to the west of the station, farther away from residential areas of the village. The new siding was going to allow idling trains to continue to be service-ready with less noise to the residents.

The new track was supposed to be constructed sometime in 2019, and was going to be built on already-owned MTA/LIRR property past West Avenue, away from residences, near the Harbor Crab Co.

"The MTA has informed me that it is in full receipt of the $3 million in funding the legislature secured in 2018 to help alleviate the noise of idling trains in Patchogue,” Sen. Alexis Weik said after looking into the project. “Advocating for this project is a priority, and I will continue to communicate with the MTA until it is completed."

Mayor Paul Pontieri also urged the completion of the project, having not heard about it since the announcement in 2018.

“We are just waiting on them [the LIRR] to see what they plan on doing,” he said. “We continually have neighbors complaining about it. It’s just unfortunate that the LIRR slowed down because of COVID and we haven’t been told anything about it.”

According to the MTA, the project is still underway, with design finished and construction completion expected late next year. The siding is now expected to be located east of the existing siding between Rider and Bay avenues.

“We continue to work with the Village of Patchogue and its residents to locate and build an area to safely hold our trains while maintaining a comfortable environment for our neighbors,” said MTA Long Island Rail Road spokesperson Meredith Daniels.

Of the approximately 56 trains, 10 remain in the Patchogue area: three turn in the station; five lay up on the north track, which runs from the station to South Ocean Avenue and is adjacent to the station platform; and two lay up on the schoolhouse track, which is situated south of the residences on Academy Street.

On weekends, 10 trains remain in the Patchogue area: six lay up on the north track, one on the schoolhouse track and three in the stations. Basically, due to the lengthy engine shutdown processes, idling is unavoidable.

Most of the 56 diesel trains that operate through Patchogue on a normal weekday schedule proceed east and are held in either Speonk or Montauk. The track, according to the MTA, will reduce but not eliminate trains being stored in Patchogue, with higher volume expected in summer.

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