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ART BENEATH THE LIRR BRIDGE AT 158TH STREET // PHOTO SUBMITTED BY GEORGE SEBASTIAN
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Heading into 2021,
LIRR is the safest
it has ever been
BY PHILLIP ENG
As 2020 comes
to an end, and
with the COVID-
19 vaccine distribution
I know we’re
all hopeful for
a fresh start in
And I’m proud
to say that going
into the New Year, the Long Island Rail
Road (LIRR) is the safest it’s ever been.
Last week, the LIRR, alongside our sister
railroad Metro-North, successfully completed
a nationally mandated safety project
called Positive Train Control, designed to
protect against human error while operating
trains to help prevent accidents.
Th is eff ort could not have been done without
our incredible PTC project team, led by
Debbie Chin and Andrew Arenth, whose
leadership, expertise and innovative thinking
ensured that we met the federal deadline
amid a year of unprecedented challenges.
Th is team worked tirelessly to install
equipment on 305 route miles across the
entire LIRR territory, along with equipment
on 1,055 train cars, 151 wayside interface
units, 108 communication locations,
and more than 4,200 transponders. More
than 3,000 LIRR personnel are now trained
on this PTC system, ensuring a safer ride
Th is important accomplishment adds to
the roster of recent safety improvements
we’ve made, including the installation of
new safety measures at all 289 railroad
crossings; the fi rst-of-its-kind partnership
with WAZE to alert motorists to upcoming
railroad crossings; and the continuing
eff orts to modernize infrastructure and
our signal systems, along with concrete tie
replacements, enhanced rail testing, and the
installation of continuous welded rail.
As we embark on a new set of infrastructure
activity for 2021, fl owing into the
spring months, we are striving for another
successful year of delivering critical projects,
and will continue to keep safety at the
forefront of everything we do.
Despite all the new challenges we faced
and had to overcome in 2020, I’m thankful
for all the signifi cant accomplishments that
we have been able to deliver. Looking ahead,
all of us here at the railroad remain committed
to continuous improvement for our customers
and our employees.
My fi nal wish for the remaining days of
2020 is that everyone fi nds a way to safely
enjoy this time of year as we all deal with
this second wave of COVID across the
country. Let’s all watch out for each other,
have a safe and healthy holiday season, and
a promising start to 2021.
From all of us at the LIRR, happy holidays
to you and your loved ones. See you in 2021.
Phillip Eng is the Long Island Rail Road
HELP MAKE 2021 A
BETTER YEAR FOR US ALL
Th e new year is upon us, and it
couldn’t come soon enough, as 2020
will be remembered as a very sad and
diffi cult time in our country’s history.
Th is year has been laced with too
much sadness and is a year most of us
would rather forget.
We’ve had to battle the COVID-19
pandemic, which has caused the deaths
of more than 300,000 men and women
and young and old — and the total is
still rising. But we now have a number
of vaccines that may end this virus
In 2020, we had political unrest and
racial disharmony, not to mention
attacks on our city’s fi nest.
In the past year, millions of Americans
are out of work due to the pandemic.
Because of that, many American families
are hungry and in need of help.
My suggested New Year’s resolution is
to extend acts of kindness and love. Th is
can be done by donating to local food
pantries and donating blood.
Might I also suggest everyone check
on their elderly neighbors and see if
they need anything? Now, how about
saving lives? If we all wear masks, practice
social distancing and routinely get
tested for COVID-19, we can all protect
I know these resolutions are doable. I
know this for a fact because my wife and
I have done it.
I am the Grand Knight of St. Anastasia
Knights of Columbus in Douglaston
and my council has donated funds to
Commonpoint Queens in Little Neck.
Please do what you can to help make
2021 a better year for us all.
In closing, let me extend best wishes
to President-elect Joe Biden in hopes he
will do right for all Americans in 2021.
Frederick R. Bedell Jr., Bellerose
BRIARWOOD IS NOT THE
RIGHT LOCATION FOR
NEW HOMELESS SHELTER
I am writing about the lease that is
being negotiated for a proposed homeless
shelter with Westhab (a homeless
shelter provider) in the existing offi ce
building at 138-50 Queens Blvd. in
Th is building is immediately adjacent
to my offi ce building where I have
50 employees in my architectural fi rm
with approximately half of them being
young women, most of whom walk past
this building every day coming from the
Additionally, immediately around the
corner are 275 families in apartments
along the Van Wyck Expressway Service
Road. Less than two blocks away are
numerous other large apartment buildings
with approximately 500 families in
fi ve buildings, not to mention all the
single and two-family dwellings within
the immediate area.
We were recently informed of this
proposal at the end of November. Th is
homeless shelter is said to house 175
men in dormitory-style quarters.
Community Board 8 recently voted
against the proposed shelter with a near
unanimous vote. Th e Briarwood Civic
Association has also come out against
the proposed homeless shelter. Th ere is
a handwritten petition being circulated,
as well as an online petition on change.
org. Th e numerous property and business
owners on Queens Boulevard and
in the immediate area are devastated
and extremely concerned about the
quality-of-life issues that will be a result
of this proposed shelter, especially in
the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic,
which is obviously still having an enormous
eff ect on their businesses.
Now, the plans for a homeless shelter
in the heart of the neighborhood,
near the only supermarket in the area,
will undoubtedly create an unnecessary
additional burden to this neighborhood’s
Th ere is also a marijuana dispensary
immediately next to the proposed shelter,
and a liquor store is about a block
and half away. Th is is a recipe for disaster.
Why propose a shelter with those
temptations in the immediate vicinity?
Also, Molloy High School — which is
co-ed — is only two blocks away.
Th e issue is not with the proposed new
owner of the property. Th e issue is with
the city and the Dept. of Social Services,
which is permitting this shelter in this
location. We implore the city NOT to
move forward with this proposal.
Th ere are so many other options with
so many vacant buildings throughout
the city. Why destroy a neighborhood
that has seen stability and growth in
Th is community will continue to
vehemently oppose this plan.
Gerald J. Caliendo, Briarwood