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Amtrak will soon begin planting hundreds of trees along the tracks in western Queens following its decision last spring to clear trees in Woodside near the Astoria border.
Residents near Boulevard Gardens, at 51st Street and 32nd Avenue close to the border of Astoria and Woodside, were livid in May after they found out that Amtrak had removed hundreds of trees along its tracks.
For many residents, the trees provided the only shield from noise caused by trains moving along the tracks, said state Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria).
“It affects not just their quality of life, but their property values,” he said. “The tracks run really close to residential buildings, so the trees protect residents from track noise. And trees are much better aesthetically than train tracks.”
Amtrak also chopped down trees along its tracks in Forest Hills. U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) and City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) have also gotten involved in the matter.
Gianaris said community residents were given no notice that the trees would be taken down. The railroad had been removing trees all the way from Washington, D.C., to Boston.
During a meeting last spring, Amtrak representatives told the community the trees were a hazard to the company’s tracks.
Gianaris said Amtrak will plant as many as 600 trees and shrubs along its tracks in Woodside at a total cost of $460,000, the assemblyman said. The railroad will also add 12,000 feet of standard fencing along the tracks and 100 feet of ornamental fencing.
A spokesman for Gianaris said the project would likely be done by October. The railroad has hired a landscape horticulturist to assist in the project.
Amtrak will maintain the trees for one year.
“They promised to replant trees, but then kept cutting them anyway,” Gianaris said. “The community was up in arms. So, it’s encouraging they said they will replant the trees. But I’ll believe it when I see it.”
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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