BY YVETTE BROWN
On Tuesday, City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), alongside Community Board 2 and Sunnyside and Woodside community members, held a rally to call on the Metropolitan Transit Authority to keep its promise to provide noise mitigation barriers as part of the East Side Access project in Sunnyside.
Back in February 2007, the MTA had discussions with CB 2 about the installation of a sound barrier and had made a promise to build a barrier similar to that alongside the Long Island Expressway and other highways. They later went back on that promise and said they would look into a plant-based sound barrier instead. The MTA told CB 2 last fall that a plant-based barrier would not be feasible last fall and suggested bike racks instead along with city benches as noise-dampening measures. The community welcomes the change, but it doesn’t help to muffle the sound of the trains.
“Yet again, the MTA has failed to keep its promises,” said Van Bramer, “Given the engineering challenges the MTA has faced in the East Side Access project, it’s difficult to believe they can’t build a simple noise barrier. This is just one more example of mismanagement and poor communication by the MTA. The agency needs to step up to the plate and make good on its word by building the sound barrier now.”
For nine years, there has also been ongoing construction, and overnight work, along with the fact that the LIRR tracks have been moved closer to residences, which has caused problems for the Sunnyside and Woodside community. The MTA is also stating that the new, diverted trains would increase the noise, which would exceed Federal Transit Administration regulations.
The East Side Access project to divert some of the LIRR trains to Grand Central Station instead of Pennsylvania Station is the largest MTA capital expense ever. It is expected to cost $10.8 billion, which is $6.5 billion over the initial budget. The project is 14 years behind schedule, expecting to open in 2023.
The MTA Capital Construction workers told CB 2 in March that the authority could not install the noise barriers because the LIRR is concerned about setting a precedent, but the MTA staff said they would take requests for noise barriers from other residents near the tracks.
“This is a very serious quality of life issue for our residents, and we will not be denied on the dismissive basis that has characterized the MTA’s response to assurances that were given to us years ago,” said CB 2 Chairman Patrick O’Brien.
Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Sunnyside) wrote a letter to the Chairman and CEO of the MTA, Thomas Prendergast calling for a noise barrier to be erected.
Reach Yvette Brown at (718)357-7400 ext.128, email@example.com or @eveywrites.