By Gregg McQueen
This is a bad sign.
Rep. Adriano Espaillat is accusing Amtrak of going off the rails when it comes to a new advertising billboard that the federally subsidized agency has put up in West Harlem.
Installed in June along Amtrak’s rail line, the large video display at West 155th Street and Riverside Drive has drawn the ire of local residents, who complained that it was constructed without community notice and has become an eyesore.
At a press conference on Mon., Oct. 7, Espaillat said he has introduced legislation that would require the railroad to follow local construction and zoning laws procedures when installing advertising displays.
Currently, Amtrak is exempt under federal law from following such city and state procedures.
Espaillat’s bill — which he is calling the Allowing More Transparency in Reviewing Advertising Construction Act, or the Amtrak Act — would remove this exemption.
Espaillat said the billboard obstructs the scenic views of the Hudson River, calling it an “assault on the environment.”
“This isn’t necessary for the functioning of the rail network — they want to make money,” remarked Espaillat, who said he has appealed to Amtrak to remove the billboard.
“Amtrak has refused our call,” he stated.
The sign is located along the railroad tracks at the end of West 155th Street between Riverside Drive and the Henry Hudson Parkway. The land on which the billboard sits is owned by Amtrak.
Read more: Amtrak billboard panned | Manhattan Times