Today’s news:

Repair Hell Gate: Vallone

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) is calling on Amtrak to immediately fix up Astoria’s Hell Gate Bridge after a five-foot piece of debris fell from the structure into a resident’s back yard.

Vallone said he has written numerous letters to Amtrak to ask for structural updates to the bridge, including a new paint job and cameras to prevent vandalism.

In late November, a 5-foot piece of debris that resembled a hose fell from the bridge and landed in the backyard of Barbara DeMaio, who lives near the Hell Gate Bridge.

“I heard a loud noise when it fell,” DeMaio said. “It looks like a rubber hose. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

She said she has often seen nuts, bolts and pieces of wood falling from the track into her yard from the bridge. In the summer, she sets up a gazebo to protect her yard from falling objects.

“Residents shouldn’t have to worry about whether these UFOs — unidentified falling objects — came from aliens or Amtrak,” Vallone said.

The councilman said he was unsure for what purpose the fallen object was used, but that it might have been some sort of safety device.

The state Department of Transportation recently gave the Hell Gate Bridge the lowest rating in its scoring system after reviewing every bridge in Queens.

Vallone said the bridge has not received a new coat of paint in three decades. He is concerned the structure could become rusty, making it easier for the metal to corrode and collapse.

He has also called on the state to repaint the bridge in its original black, calling it an “eyesore.”

Vallone had complained to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in August after a 2-foot piece of wood with pointed edges fell from the tracks onto the street at Ditmars Boulevard’s N and W subway station and creosote dripped from the station onto parked cars, damaging their paint jobs.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com

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