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Jamaica cleanup right on track

With few weekend trains running through typically bustling Jamaica Station, the Long Island Rail Road is taking the opportunity to clean up the transit hub's tracks.

LIRR workers will remove debris near the three old control towers at Jamaica over the weekend while service is dramatically reduced for testing of a new switching and signal system. Similar service reductions are planned the weekend of Nov. 6-7.

LIRR president Helena Williams said some of the items scattered about the railroad's right-of-way in Jamaica "have been there for years."

"Our customers should get a feel for better train reliability and a little bit of environmental cleanup as they go through Jamaica," Williams said at a news conference Thursday. "They'll notice a difference in terms of how that right-of-way looks."

Maureen Michaels, chairwoman of the LIRR Commuter Council, said she is glad to see the LIRR take a step to addressing its littered right-of-way - a major concern of the council for years.

"It's a huge, serious, environmentally degrading condition, and I'm glad to see that they're picking it up outside Jamaica," said Michaels, adding that everything from water jugs to rusty buckets can be spotted near tracks during a typical commute. "It looks like a shantytown."

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