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Drunk Bar-Goers Endangered by Williamsburg Freight Train Tracks, Locals Say

By Gwynne Hogan | June 24, 2016 8:29am | Updated on June 27, 2016 7:56am
 Open freight train tracks worry community members as the industrial park gets more bars and venues.
Dangerous Train Tracks
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EAST WILLIAMSBURG — Save the drunks.

Community leaders are calling on the mayor to increase safety measures at freight train tracks that slice through the area's industrial park — for fear that intoxicated patrons spilling out of the area's growing bars and nightlife scene will will stumble onto the tracks.

"This is an accident waiting to happen ... persons who are greatly intoxicated [are] finding their way home in the dark," Community Board 1 District Manager Gerald Esposito wrote in a letter to the mayor's office on June 21, adding that the community board had contacted the Department of Buildings, the Department of Transportation, the Office of Emergency Management and the Mayor's Community Affairs Unit with no helpful response. 

New York and Atlantic Railway uses the freight train lines to shuttle lumber, paper, building materials, plastic, food products and recyclables from Brooklyn and Queens east out to the rest of Long Island, according to their website.

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It's not clear how often trains pass through East Williamsburg and the company didn't return a request for comment, though their website says that they operate 13 locomotives which transport 28,000 loads a year.

And while the tracks have been in operation since the 1997, in recent years the industrial park has begun a transformation similar to the one that occurred in the Greenpoint, Williamsburg Industrial Zone, where former manufacturing sites were converted into event spaces, galleries, venues and bars, bringing a surge in foot traffic to what was once a desolate zone at night.

The 6,000 person venue Brooklyn Mirage (though it's currently under vacate order from the city due to unsafe conditions) backs onto the freight train lines on one side.

A new gallery recently opened at 198 Randolph St. where the Bushwick Collective hosted a massive exposition as part of their annual block party.

And nearby 99 Scott Ave. is slated to become a beer garden, winery and office space. 

A rusted out, pedestrian bridge on Scott Avenue crosses the tracks, though its entrance on either end opens at the rail bed. The bridge has a gaping, rusty hole on one of the steps wide enough to step through. 

"Our board is highly concerned with the sudden upsurge of large entertainment venues that have set a bull's eye on our East Williamsburg Industrial Business Zone as 'the next hot' area to operate in," the district manager said in his letter to the mayor. "This area is not conducive for this type of commercial activity."

De Blasio's press office didn't return a request for comment.