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LIRR watchdog blasts railroad over cleanup efforts

A Long Island Rail Road watchdog group Monday blasted the MTA for not doing enough to clean up the LIRR's littered right-of-way, and for saying it has done more than it actually has.

The LIRR on Friday issued a news release touting the completion of a project to clean up debris on the tracks in Jamaica Station. But the LIRR Commuter's Council, in its own release, said Monday that the LIRR's efforts "came up far short."

"The LIRR can claim the project has ended, but it is a misrepresentation to characterize the cleanup project as complete," said council chairwoman Maureen Michaels, who said the tracks at Jamaica, as well as the rest of the LIRR's system, remain polluted by construction materials and other junk. "We call upon the town supervisors and mayors on Long Island, as well as New York City officials, to join us by telling the MTA to stop polluting our communities."

In a statement Monday, LIRR officials said they removed 197 cubic yards of debris and 429 old wooden railroad ties at Jamaica in recent weeks, and have plans to conduct a similar cleanup at Hicksville in the coming months. Such projects can be tough to schedule because they require having workers and equipment on tracks while trains are running, the LIRR said. And they require money.

"The LIRR typically removes over 4,000 cubic yards of debris annually that is illegally dumped on our property," the LIRR said in a statement. "We would welcome additional funding that would allow us to conduct similar cleanups at other areas on Long Island. "

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