TODAY, Tuesday, April 26th, Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer and Community Board 2, along with Sunnyside and Woodside community members, held a rally to call on the MTA to stay true to its promise to provide noise mitigation barriers along Long Island Rail Road tracks as part of the East Side Access project.  

The MTA first discussed a sound barrier with Community Board 2 in February 2007. MTA promised to build a barrier similar to those alongside the Long Island Expressway and other highways. It later reneged on that promise, saying it would look into a permeable plant-based sound barrier instead. Last fall, the MTA told CB2 that a plant barrier was not feasible, and instead suggested bike racks and City Benches as noise-dampening measures.  

While the community welcomes bike racks and benches, they do nothing to muffle the sound of thundering passenger trains. 

“Yet again, the MTA has failed to keep its promises,” said Majority Leader Jimmy 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.” 

“Community Board 2 is calling on the MTA to keep the promise they made to the community as far back at 2007 concerning the installation of a sound attenuation measures to mitigate noise from the train operations along the Long Island Railroad Tracks near Barnett Avenue,” said Community Board 2 Chairman Patrick O’Brien. “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.” 

For the past nine years, ongoing construction, including repeated overnight work, has caused grief for residents of Sunnyside and Woodside, largely quiet and family-oriented neighborhoods. Additionally, because of East Side Access, LIRR tracks have been moved closer to residences, and the MTA predicts that the new, diverted trains will cause noise exceeding Federal Transit Administration regulations. 

In March, MTA Capital Construction staff told members of Community Board 2 that the authority could not install noise attenuation barriers because the Long Island Rail Road is concerned about setting a precedent. It would, MTA staff said, open the door to requests from other residents near its tracks for noise barriers. 

East Side Access, a classic example of MTA mismanagement, is a project to divert some LIRR trains to Grand Central Station instead of Pennsylvania Station and cut time from the commutes of Long Island suburbanites. The project, the largest-ever MTA capital expense, is expected to cost $10.8 billion, $6.5 billion over the initial budget, and is now scheduled to open in 2023, 14 years behind schedule.

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