Astoria, NY.- Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) and Council Member Peter F. Vallone Jr. toured work areas on the Amtrak train trestle above Astoria. Both Gianaris and Vallone had taken issue with Amtrak for allowing debris and rocks to fall from the Hell Gate Bridge shattering windshields and nearly striking pedestrians.
“Hopefully they have finally got the message that steps must be taken to protect the residents of Western Queens,” stated Assemblyman Gianaris. “More must be down to stop this from happening and we must provide greater notice to area residents when work is happening above their heads.”
“Our residents should never have been subjected to rocks or any other debris falling from the Hell Gate Bridge. We will continue to work with Amtrak to ensure our neighborhood isn’t terrorized during a routine maintenance project,” said Council Member Vallone.
Amtrak had written to both Gianaris and Vallone that their Track and Structures Department has been working to seal the top side of the bridge and have placed new grating over walkways and other sensitive areas to prevent rocks and debris from falling, but both elected officials wanted to see the improvements for themselves. While they continued to speak out against Amtrak’s initial negligence which allowed rocks to fall, both were impressed by the newly completed precautions which will ensure for much safer streets below.
Amtrak has also taken additional measures on the ground including closing off areas under the work areas, placing watchmen on the ground and vacuuming excess ballast (rocks) off tracks.
Gianaris and Vallone also had the opportunity to view a section of Woodside, during the elevated tour, where trees were chopped down along Amtrak’s railway, as part of another maintenance project.
Following the controversial action to cut trees along the railway that connects Boston to Washington D.C., a group of Woodside residents stood up against the measure with the help of Vallone, and demanded their trees replanted. Amtrak is currently replanting each tree along 56th Place and 57th Street, between 28th and 31st Avenues, and landscaping the area.