I was over in Greenpoint last weekend for a Newtown Creek Alliance event, and since it was such a beautiful and clear day, I decided to wave the camera about and see what could be seen. Over on the LIC side of my beloved creek, I noticed something surprising. The Wheelspur Yard of the LIRR, which hasn’t been active since the late 1950s, had a series of freight cars sitting in it.
Due to lost storage capacity at the Sunnyside Yards (thanks to the East Side Access project), the company which handles freight for the LIRR — The NY&Atlantic — made a major investment in LIC to rebuild a side track in LIC where they can store freight cars. This project has been under way since shortly after Hurricane Sandy hit, and construction has recently been concluded. From anacostia.com:
Work is under way to prepare NY&A’s Wheel Spur Yard near Long Island City for three customers to transload vegetable oil, food products and construction material. A new structure is being built and an existing warehouse will be upgraded. NY&A is building a new siding along the Newtown Creek draw, which initially will be used to transload lumber. Plans call for discharging construction material for the new Kosciuszko Bridge from rail cars, barges and ocean-going vessels.
I’ve told you about NY&A before, and the Wheelspur Yard being opening up for them is pretty good news for Queens. Bulk shipping reduces the number of trucks on area streets, and ostensibly lowers the price of commodity goods like lumber and oil — which are fiendishly expensive to ship across New York City on surface roads. The shot above is one of their engines, making a delivery further up the line in Maspeth at one of the few street grade crossings you’ll find in the five boroughs.
Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman lives in Astoria and blogs at Newtown Pentacle.