From the Times Ledger:
Amtrak recently chopped down hundreds of trees along its tracks in western Queens, but halted the clearing after livid Woodside and Astoria residents complained to the railroad corporation.
State Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) and residents of Boulevard Gardens, an apartment complex at 51st Street at 32nd Avenue near the border of Astoria and Woodside, told an Amtrak representative at a May 18 meeting they were furious that hundreds of trees had been removed along borough tracks. The trees had been cut down in Astoria, Woodside, Forest Hills and other borough neighborhoods.
“These trees were nowhere near the tracks and residents said they posed no obstruction,” Gianaris said. “This does incredible damage to air quality, especially in an area where the air is already bad due to power plants. It was an aggressive effort by Amtrak.”
Gianaris said the community was given no notice that the trees would be taken down.
In addition, the railroad company has been removing trees all the way from Washington, D.C., to Boston, the assemblyman said.
Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole said the company had removed trees to prevent the danger of falling leaves and limbs onto its tracks.
“We listened to residents’ complaints, so we are going to be looking to add some shrubs or lower trees,” he said.
The railroad is no longer removing the trees in the borough, he said.
At last week’s meeting, the corporation vowed to plant new fir trees along its tracks.