NY Times – M.T.A. Will Ban Alcohol Advertising on Buses and Subways

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board on Wednesday voted to ban alcohol advertising from its properties, beginning Jan. 1. Credit Jason Decrow/Invision for Zevia, via Associated Press

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board on Wednesday voted to ban alcohol advertising from its properties, beginning Jan. 1. Credit Jason Decrow/Invision for Zevia, via Associated Press

By LUIS FERRÉ-SADURNÍ

Originally published by The New York Times on October 25, 2017

The board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Wednesday banned advertising of alcoholic beverages on New York City buses, subway cars and stations, contending that the social benefits of deterring underage drinking outweighed the loss of revenue.

After years of pressure from grass-roots organizations, the board voted unanimously in favor of the ban, which will go into effect in January.

Advocates have long said that alcohol advertising is a public health issue and that the proliferation of such advertising increases the likelihood of underage drinking.

“Alcohol advertisements on the M.T.A. are disproportionally targeting communities of color, lower-income communities and also young people,” said Jazmin Rivera, a spokeswoman for Building Alcohol Ad-Free Transit.

The authority’s ad space has long been a battleground for debates over free speech and decency. After Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office complained about a breast enhancement ad in 2014, officials worked with advertisers to make sure ads were not too racy.

“When advertisers understand that we have approximately 1.6 million people every single day through the system — it’s a fabulous place to advertise,” Mr. Lhota said.

Effective immediately, the agency will no longer accept new alcohol-related ads; existing contracts for such ads will be honored until the contracts expire at the end of the year.

The decision disappointed alcohol trade associations, which have confronted a growing number of alcohol advertising bans in cities across the country.

“Science and research show that there is no benefit to banning this type of advertising,” said Jay Hibbard, vice president of government relations for the Distilled Spirits Council.

Mr. Hibbard said the majority of the American population, about 71.6 percent, was above the legal drinking age. Parents, not advertisements, are the greatest influence on preventing underage drinking, he said.

“This is not advertising on school buses,” Mr. Hibbard said. “This is advertising on a public transportation system.”

The board is still discussing how the measure will affect the partnerships it has with Connecticut on Metro-North Railroad trains, and with New Jersey on New Jersey Transit.

Underage drinking leads to over 7,000 emergency-room visits in New York City hospitals a year, said Councilman Daniel Dromm, a Democrat representing Jackson Heights, Queens.

“I’m 26 years clean and sober, and it’s a personal issue for me,” said Mr. Dromm, who introduced a resolution in the Council urging the authority to ban alcohol ads. “I know the detrimental effect this type of advertising has on young people.”

Read more here.

Residents File Class Action Suit Against MTA Over Lead Paint on 7 Train

By Matt McClure
Reported by NY1 on Monday, May 22, 2017 at 08:05 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 11.06.10 PMA group of Jackson Heights residents has filed a class action lawsuit against the MTA. They say lead paint chips falling from the elevated 7 train line pose a public health hazard. NY1’s Matt McClure filed the following report.

Standing under the elevated 7 train along Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights you can’t help but notice it: Paint chipping and falling away.

“I have two small kids,” said Dudley Stewart, a Jackson Heights resident and one of the plaintiffs in the case. “

Every day we walk through Roosevelt Avenue and I get worried because you see the dust falling from the train. We know it’s filled with lead aint.”

A recent study by a painter’s union found lead levels in paint chips here were more than 40 times the legal threshold.

Now, four Jackson Heights residents have joined together in a federal class action lawsuit against the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), calling on the agency to fix the problem.

“This is something the MTA has known about for years,” Steward said. “We want them to fix it. They refuse to fix it. Now is the time to force them to do it.”

“When all other avenues have failed, we believe that this lawsuit will then force the MTA to cure this hazard, which has existed for too long,” said attorney Dan Woodard, who represents the plaintiffs.

Among other things, the lawsuit accuses the agency of intentionally causing dangerous conditions by painting the structure with lead paint, then not maintaining it. City Council Member Daniel Dromm says it’s a public health hazard. He also believes it’s been 35 years since the structure between Woodside and Corona has received a fresh coat of paint.

“They keep telling us it’s in the budget,” Dromm said. “We’ve not seen it painted.”

Tammy Rose, an area resident involved in the lawsuit says the structural conditions of the elevated 7 line are so bad, one day as she was driving down Roosevelt Avenue, a bolt fell and hit her car.

“If a bolt falls off, imagine the amount of paint chips that are falling that we don’t see,” Rose said.

“You can see the structure is in very bad shape,” Dromm added. “I’m surprised it hasn’t fallen down!”

The MTA does not comment on pending litigation, but a spokesperson says their previous tests showed lead levels within EPA standards. The spokesperson also denies that it has been 35 years since the bridge has been painted, although they didn’t say when it happened. There is money in the agency’s current Capital Plan for the painting, but there’s no word on when it might happen.

For the residents who filed this lawsuit, it can’t come soon enough.

See more here.

Poisonous lead paint is raining down from the 7 train

By Danielle Furfaro

Originally published by the New York Post on April 23, 2017

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

Poisonous lead-paint chips are raining down on several Queens neighborhoods from elevated subway tracks, threatening the health of passersby, especially children, officials told The Post.

The decrepit No. 7 train trestle — which runs through Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Woodside — hasn’t been repainted in more than three decades, said City Councilman Daniel Dromm, leaving the flaking lead-based paint exposed.

“I’m surprised it’s still standing, that’s how rusted and bad the chipping of the paint is and the lead dust particles are flying through the air,” said Dromm, who grew up in the area.

The amount of lead in the paint is 224,000 parts per million — or 44 times more than what is considered safe, according to the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, which tested the falling paint chips at the behest of residents, Dromm and others.

Dr. Morri Markowitz, director of the Lead Poisoning Treatment and Prevention Program at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center, was aghast to learn about the “extremely toxic” levels falling from the elevated tracks.

“I think the Department of Health or the city environmental agencies should get involved,” the concerned doctor said. “The lead paint could potentially be falling off of every elevated track throughout the city, not just on the 7 [line].”

Davon Lomax, director of the union, noted how heavily populated the area is.

“There are food carts, restaurants and schools under there, and the dust is getting everywhere, and it’s all breathable,’’ he said.

“This poses a threat to people who work and are passing underneath there every day.”

The dilapidated sections of the overhead tracks run from the 52nd street station to Junction Boulevard.

“It’s a poison, and kids shouldn’t be exposed to it,” said resident Samuel Rivera, 62, who lives in Jackson Heights. “The MTA should have repainted this by now, but they take their sweet time doing everything.”

Father-of-two Md Lokman Hossain said he is particularly worried about his 17-month-old son, noting that the tot could mistake a paint chip for food if it fell into his lap as they walked along Roosevelt Avenue.

“He could think it’s candy or something and swallow it, and it could lead to a big problem,’’ Hossain said.

Dromm said he has repeatedly pressed the MTA to take better care of the trestles, especially the area around the 74th Street/Broadway station.

“It has not been painted for at least 35 years that I can remember,” he said.

MTA officials said it has painted the trestles more recently than that, but they couldn’t say exactly when.

“No station on the 7 line, or the connecting infrastructure, has gone 35 years without being painted,” said agency spokeswoman Beth DeFalco. “We do annual joint inspections with NYCDEP of NYC Parks that are adjacent to our subway structures and quarterly inspections of other locations”

Markowitz called lead-based paints “indestructible, and recommended that those who live close to the tracks are at highest risk, and should seek out testing — as should MTA workers and commuters who spend time in the station.

Lead poisoning can cause developmental delays, learning disabilities, hearing loss and seizures in children, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Read more here.

MTA Will Fund New Elmhurst LIRR Station

By Yvette Brown

Originally published in the Queens Tribune on January 14, 2016

The Long Island Rail Road is coming back to Elmhurst in the near future to help local residents get to and from the city in a more convenient way.

The reopening of the Elmhurst LIRR station, located on Broadway between Cornish and Whitney avenues, has been a goal of U.S. Reps. Joe Crowley (D-Queens), Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) since 2012. The station was shut down in 1985 because of the lack of usage.

The site of the former, and perhaps future, Elmhurst LIRR Station on Broadway in Elmhurst. File Photo courtesy of the Queens Tribune.

The elected officials had written letters to the LIRR president, held walk-throughs and conducted a ridership survey to get the process moving along, and it appears to have worked.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority’s 2015-2019 Capital Program, which includes $40 million and reconstructing the Elmhurst LIRR station, was approved in November 2015.

The first letter to the NYS Department of Transportation Commissioner and MTA Capital Program Review Board Chair Joan McDonald was to discuss the reopening and speak about how vitally important it is to ensure greater transportation options in the area. Crowley and Dromm initially wanted to reopen the LIRR station in January of 2012, which they both explained would not only create improved access to Midtown Manhattan, but also help create jobs in Elmhurst as well. Both elected officials led a walking tour of the site with officials from MTA to further explore the possibility of reopening the station in March of 2012. This was followed by a town hall with residents about a month later to discuss transportation issues within the community.

According to the 2010 Census, “Elmhurst is home to one of the most diverse populations in the country, a trend that will likely continue in the near future as the community continues to grow.”

The ridership survey was then conducted in June of 2013. There were two components of the survey, a written version and the other was in person with sites located at nearby subway stations and areas surrounding Elmhurst Hospital Center. Both of them contained questions about what means of transportation residents use at the time, their travel frequency, their mode of choice and how they might avail themselves of LIRR service.

“This survey will be very important in helping us determine if there is sufficient demand in the Elmhurst community to consider reopening the station,” said Helena Williams, LIRR President, during the time of the ridership survey. “We urge residents to take a few minutes to fill it out. There are many issues that need to be carefully evaluated as part of this process but this is an important first step.”

Following the ridership survey came the funding. Crowley, Meng and Dromm released a statement following the release of the MTA’s Capital Program.

“Restoring LIRR service to Elmhurst will help a burgeoning neighborhood reach its full economic potential and become a destination for all New Yorkers,” said Crowley, Meng and Dromm. “We are thrilled to learn the MTA agrees that investing in this community is a win-win and that they have included critical funding to rebuild the station in their recently proposed capital budget. For years, Elmhurst residents have called for greater transportation options and we are now one step closer to turning this idea into a reality. We will continue to work with MTA officials to ensure this project remains a top priority and look forward to the day when Elmhurst will be the next stop for millions of New Yorkers.”

“We have budgeted $30.5 million for the design and construction of a new LIRR station at Elmhurst,” said Aaron Donovan, spokesperson for the MTA. “It would include two new 12-car-long platforms along with staircases, platform railings, platform shelters, ticket vending machines, as well as lighting, communication and security systems. The station will be fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, with elevators. The funding includes environmental review, design and construction.”

“For Elmhurst, one of Queens’ most vibrant and fastest-growing communities, the reopening of its LIRR station will be transformational,” said Crowley. “I applaud the MTA Board for approving the project as part of its 2015-19 capital program and I thank both Congresswoman Grace Meng and Council Member Daniel Dromm for their roles in helping to make this a reality. After years of advocating for this new station, the MTA Board approval means we are yet one step closer to not only ensuring local residents have the transportation options they deserve but also making sure Elmhurst lives up to its full economic potential.”

Read more here.

Western Queens Gazette: Tour Unkempt LIRR Overpass, Demand Improvements


(L. to r.); Christian Cassagnol, district manager, Community Board 4 Queens; Councilmember Daniel Dromm; state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky; Rosemarie Daraio, president, COMET Civic Group; and Geraldine Walsh, treasurer, COMET Civic Group.

State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing); Councilmember Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights); Christian Cassagnol, district manager, Community Board 4 Queens; Rosemarie Daraio, president, COMET Civic Group; and Geraldine Walsh, treasurer, COMET Civic Group, toured the 55th Avenue/Elmhurst Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) overpass with LIRR and Department of Sanitation officials to discuss the unkempt conditions and demand immediate improvements to address the situation.

“This site must be cleaned and made safe for pedestrians,” said Stavisky. “There is no substitute for an on-site visit to see conditions first-hand. Councilmember Dromm and I will continue to monitor the problem.”

“Quality of life issues are vitally important to the growth, strength and happiness of the community,” said Dromm. “Monday’s walk-through hopefully marks the start of a stronger commitment from the LIRR to keep their property clean. I thank the railroad, Senator Stavisky, the Department of Sanitation and the many community activists for working on this issue.”

DNAinfo: Diversity Plaza to Get More Seating and Improved Lighting

Councilman Dromm and the DOT will contribute a combined $2.5 million to improve the plaza. photo: Veronica C./Foursquare

By Katie Honan

JACKSON HEIGHTS — A local pedestrian plaza will be getting more seats, better lighting and maps — and the community will have the chance to vote on even more improvements — thanks to funding from the area’s councilman and the city.

City Councilman Daniel Dromm announced plans to allocate $500,000 from his discretionary funds to pay for improvements to Diversity Plaza, which is on 37th Road between 73rd and 74th streets in Jackson Heights.

The plaza will receive additional seating, improved lighting and community maps with directions to the plaza once it becomes permanent, he said.

“These improvements will go a long way to build out an asset that our community has come to adopt as a town square,” Dromm said.

In addition to the funds from Dromm’s office, the Department of Transportation has earmarked $2 million to make even more changes to the plaza — changes which residents will be able to discuss and vote on at a meeting later this fall.

The money could go towards things like an improved street structure and a public pay toilet, the councilman said.

“Diversity Plaza is a result of tremendous community effort, from the intensive transportation planning sessions that developed it, to the efforts of the local merchants and civic groups that are now sustaining it,” said Andy Wiley-Schwartz, an assistant commissioner at the DOT.

The street was closed and turned into a pedestrian plaza in 2011. It is currently in its temporary design phase, but the additional money will help transition it into a permanent space.

http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20131014/jackson-heights/diversity-plaza-get-more-seating-improved-lighting

 

Ny1: Touring Daniel Dromm’s District

NY1 VIDEO: The Road to City Hall’s Errol Louis visited City Councilman Daniel Dromm’s 25th city council district in Queens.

Daily News: Long Island Rail Road could arrive in Elmhurst

It could be all aboard the Long Island Rail Road in Elmhurst if local lawmakers have their way.
LIRR officials will begin a month-long survey next week to see if it makes financial sense to reopen the neighborhood’s long-shuttered, overhead station.
elmhurst-lirr-station
(L-R) Congressman Joseph Crowley, Council Member Daniel Dromm and LIRR President Helena Williams take a walking tour around the former Elmhurst LIRR Station in Elmhurst in 2012.
“It’s a worthwhile investment,” said City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights.) “It would be a big transportation and economic development boost for the area.”
A surge of new residents have moved into Elmhurst in recent years, Dromm said, leading to more crowded trains and buses.
That’s why he’s confident locals would be willing to shell out the $8 per ride during peak hours for a faster, more comfortable trip to Manhattan. Straphangers currently shell out $2.50 for a subway or bus ride.
“People would be willing to pay a little bit more for the convenience of knowing when the train was going to arrive,” Dromm said. “We have some major employers in that area — such as the Elmhurst Hospital [Center] and the Queens Center Mall.”
LIRR officials said the future of the $30 million project won’t be decided until at least 2015.
The station was closed in 1985 because of low ridership, LIRR officials previously said. But trains on the Port Washington line still pass through it on the way to Manhattan.
Dromm and Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Queens, Bronx) approached the LIRR to reopen the station in early 2012.
“This is an important first step,” LIRR President Helena Williams said in a statement.
The agency will mail a written questionnaire to nearby homes and have representatives in the neighborhood question pedestrians about their modes of transportation.
Opening the station could alleviate the uncomfortable overcrowding on the area’s mass transit options, said Robert Valdes-Clausell, one of the directors of the Newtown Civic Association.
It could also help locals to get to and from other parts of Queens — and even Long Island.
“They should have reopened long ago,” said Rosemarie Poveromo, president of the nearby United Community Civic Association. “It’s convenient for the people in that immediate community.”

By Clare Trapasso
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/long-island-rail-road-arrive-elmhurst-article-1.1379394#ixzz2X0M4DkWg

NY1: MTA Considers Reopening Elmhurst LIRR Station

NY1 VIDEO: Working with Congressman Crowley and City Council Member Dromm, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is considering reopening a shuttered Long Island Rail Road station in Elmhurst, and is seeking residents’ feedback before making a decision via Elmhurst Travel Surveys.

See more at: http://queens.ny1.com/content/top_stories/184305/mta-considers-reopening-elmhurst-lirr-station–seeks-residents–input/#sthash.Mq0IKyT8.dpuf

Times Ledger: Jax Hgts boy’s death inspires traffic forum


A block away from where an 11-year-old boy was run over by a dump truck in December, about 100 people attended City Councilman Daniel Dromm’s (D-Jackson Heights) forum Tuesday centered on improving traffic in Jackson Heights.

“This is what I thought a very good turnout,” Dromm said, “but it’s an interest of concern.”


The councilman said he had wanted to do more to improve traffic safety in Jackson Heights and had been in discussions with the city Department of Transportation, but the death of Miguel Torres, who was struck by the rear wheels of a white dump truck turning right onto Northern Boulevard from 80th Street, spurred him to get into greater discussions with the DOT. Police had not found the driver as of Wednesday afternoon.

“That just increased the urgency with which we needed to address some of these problems,” Dromm said.

The panel was held at IS 145, at 33-34 80th St. in Jackson Heights, where Torres went to school. Representatives from the 115th Precinct, the DOT and Transportation Alternatives, a public transportation advocacy group, attended. Transportation Alternatives and the civic group Jackson Heights Green Alliance co-hosted the event with Dromm.

The forum discussed both preventive and enforcement measures when dealing with traffic safety, which Yu-Ting Liu, of Transportation Alternatives, referred to as the “carrot” and the “stick” approach.

“There’s a lot of pedestrian safety and traffic calming programs that are available,” Liu said.

Two of the most commonly discussed solutions were speed tracking cameras and slow zones. Queens Deputy Borough Commissioner Delilah Hall said the DOT is in favor of speed tracking cameras, which have the potential to warn motorists speeding the same way that red light cameras have prevented drivers from running the lights.

Liu said getting drivers to slow down is of grave importance as speeding kills four times as many people as drunk driving and the difference between being hit at 30 mph and 40 mph is an 80 percent survival rate vs. a 70 percent death rate.

“Speeding matters,” she said. “Every mile per hour matters.”

The developed slow zones, which were implemented in July 2012, set 20 mph zones in residential areas as well as adding speed bumps and other traffic-calming measures. Some sections of Jackson Heights, Corona, Elmhurst and Auburndale received slow zones, but to do this the area must have natural boundaries and must not be a bus or truck route.

As a major thoroughfare, the intersection where Miguel was hit could not become a slow zone, Hall said.

“We will continue to work with you on how to make Northern Boulevard safer,” Hall said.

Liu said to make changes in terms of traffic safety, it is important to be specific, organized and articulate about what you want as a community.

“Get organized about what your problem is, document it and work with your local elected officials,” she said.