FedEx to Bring Trucks to Astoria’s "Asthma Alley"?

Last Thursday, The Unified Community Civic Association hosted a public information session on a proposed FedEx distribution center in Astoria, Queens. The 255,000 square foot project is the source of serious consternation in the neighborhood, where residents fear hundreds of new trucks will flood the streets.

The lot in question is part of the large Con Ed property and sits along Luyster Creek above 21st St in Astoria. Con Ed, responding to orders from the Public Services Commission (PSC) to sell off unused property, is looking to sell the site to Steel Equities, a developer that will build the facility and lease it to FedEx.

The area adjacent to the FedEx site is locally known as “asthma alley” for a high rate of respiratory illness and is close to local manufacturing, the BQE, LaGuardia Airport, and multiple Con Ed power plants. Trucks represent a major source of dangerous pollutants, and could put Queens further out of compliance with federal air quality standards. The borough currently does not meet EPA standards for levels of carbon monoxide or nitrogen oxides.

According to FedEx, however, the project will not have a deleterious effect on local traffic or air quality. An Environmental Assessment (EA) prepared by a consultant found that the project would have no significant environmental impact. The finding was based on FedEx’s promise to spread arriving tractor-trailers from Newark Liberty Airport over 24-hour periods. FedEx claims the project will add only 22 trucks (or 44 trips) a day to local streets during the first 3 years of the distribution center’s operation, when the center will be building out to full capacity. Afterwards, traffic will increase to 55 trucks a day (110 trips). These numbers are in addition to the much more numerous delivery trucks that will fan out from the site – vehicles which FedEx again promises to send out in a staggered fashion to avoid bursts of traffic. No copies of the EA were made available at the meeting and it remains a sight unseen. Tri-State has requested a copy of the EA under the state freedom of information law.

While the project remains a heated and controversial subject in the community, there appeared to be wide consensus at the meeting against the sale to FedEx. In response to the proposal, a number of local organizations and residents have formed the Coalition for a Better Astoria, which is calling for Con Ed to cede or sell the land to the city for development as a waterfront park. State Senator George Ororato attended the meeting and voiced his strong opposition to the project, saying, “We will do all we can legislatively” to kill the sale. Letters of opposition were also distributed on behalf of U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney and New York City Councilman Peter Vallone.

4 Comments on "FedEx to Bring Trucks to Astoria’s "Asthma Alley"?"

  1. ConEd and Bloomberg are out to get revenge after they were humiliated on a National level during the power failure. Bloomberg didn’t even want to visit Astoria during the blackout and kept saying wait for the official report to see what went wrong and who to blame. Bloomberg never once faulted ConEd and the report came out 4months later and fully found ConEd negligent on everything and anything. The whole time during this fiasco Bloomberg was praising ConEd, meanwhile it’s their fault on all fronts why the blackout happened. Bravo Bloomberg for showing us what a small little man you are inside and outside.

  2. The parcel is in an area reserved for industrial development. We desperately need land for well-paying blue-collar jobs. Maybe FedEx isn’t the right tenant, but the land needs to be used for some sort of job-intensive use- Astoria already has a pretty big waterfront park and a fair amount of waterfront access compared to neighborhoods in Brooklyn. It could be a renewable energy generation station (wind, solar and tidal power all could work on that site), a biotech research facility, or a food manufacturing and distribution site.

    Maybe a solution could be to incorporate both manufacturing and industrial use on the majority of the parcel while allowing public access to the waterfront part of the site.

  3. Have you seen the FedEx facility in Maspeth this one in Astoria will replace? It’s a barren industrial wasteland, with a huge building and parking lot with junk and garbage all around it, ripped down fences all bombed out looking. Astoria doesn’t need blue collar jobs like this if it’s going to be a huge eyesore, it will need jobs and residents when people move out from the across the Avenue, where it is all residential due to all the noise from the FedEx trucks and trailers. On that same side of the Avenue of the FedEx proposed site roughly 6 streets down they’re building exclusive luxury apartments, how exclusive will these apartments be when they have a nice view of FedEx trucks going up and down 19th avenue? Yea we have a great view of FedEx trucks and trailers, 24/7! It’s great man …

  4. A presentation to Queens Community Board 1 was made by Steel Equities and Fed Ex in the Fall 2007, which stated 290 truck trips were planned. This number was quoted at various meetings, and suddenly changed at last week’s public meeting. My guess is that this new and smaller number was misleading and differentiated between the 18 wheelers and the smaller distribution owner/operator vans.

    A survey taken by the Coalition for a Better Astoria, residents overwhelmingly support the rezoning of this 21 acre site into a waterfront park. Asthma Alley residents prefer and deserve cleaner air .

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