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City council waste equity bill, backed by de Blasio, is a step toward less truck traffic in North Brooklyn

September 7, by Nathaly Pesantez

A long-stalled bill that would cap the amount of garbage processed in North Brooklyn and other overburdened areas is likely to gain passage in the city council this year which would lead to reduction in neighborhood pollution and garbage truck traffic.

The bill, introduced in 2014 to city council and chiefly sponsored by Councilmembers Stephen Levin (D-Greenpoint) and Antonio Reynoso (D-Williamsburg), would limit the amount of garbage sent to Community Board 1 in Brooklyn, where its 15 transfer stations process nearly 40 percent of all garbage produced in the city. The bill has the support of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

One of the primary goals of the bill in reducing the amount of garbage passing through North Brooklyn, according to a city council report, is to mitigate truck traffic associated with garbage collection and processing, which exposes area residents to harmful diesel exhaust and adverse health effects.

“It’s an unbelievable fact how unfair the history is in terms of garbage cutting into this district,” de Blasio said at an Aug. 30 town hall in Williamsburg, where he announced his support for the bill.

At a Sept. 6 community meeting, Councilmember Levin said the bill would reduce the capacity of waste transfer stations in Greenpoint and Brooklyn by 40 percent.

Levin said that while the bill would reduce the number of garbage trucks in the area, commercial and garbage trucks would continue to barrel down area streets. Truck traffic has been an ongoing concern in Greenpoint but since the death of Neftaly Ramirez, who was hit by a garbage truck while on his bike over the summer, the issue has resurfaced.

Levin added that he has been in talks with the Department of Transportation on whether Franklin Street, the nearly 20-block throughway near the waterfront where Ramirez was killed, should continue to be a thru truck route, noting that surrounding streets, like McGuinness Boulevard, already act as sufficient paths.

“Franklin Street doesn’t really need to be a truck route,” Levin said, which was met with applause by community residents at the meeting.

With the Sept. 5 opening of the Hamilton Marine transfer station near the Gowanus Expressway, 780 tons of garbage and 100 garbage trucks a day have been redirected away from North Brooklyn, according to the Department of Sanitation. The new transfer station is part of the city’s plan to make waste collection and disposal more equitable across the five boroughs.

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