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Queens Chronicle

Tunnel project causes headache

Sunnysiders say East Side Access project pushes legal sound limits

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Posted: Thursday, August 1, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:39 am, Thu Aug 8, 2013.

Sunnyside residents want the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to stick to noise guidelines while working on the East Side Access Project.

“It’s a deafening sound bigger than a jack hammer noise,” said Kathy Daniels while standing on the corner of 45th Street and Barnett Avenue on Saturday morning. “I don’t know how your workers aren’t deaf.”

The project, which is being constructed parallel with Barnett Avenue about a block’s distance away, will connect the Long Island Rail Road’s main and Port Washington lines in Queens to a new terminal beneath Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan.

The MTA tries to work between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., according to spokesman Kevin Ortiz, but there is no law prohibiting construction to go later although work past 7 p.m. must stay under 90 decibels.

Residents say they hear drilling as late as 2 a.m.

In the time span of 24 hours Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) gathered together about 50 neighbors who say the noise is too much.

“We’re constructing a retaining wall,” Ortiz said. “When you lay down sheet metal it hits large underground boulders that lead to loud bangs.”

The boulders are an unforeseen issue, but the MTA has instructed contractors to try to work around them.

Last week an MTA employee brought a machine to measure the noise to the councilman’s house at 7:45 a.m., Van Bramer said. The machine registered noise over the legal level several times.

On July 13 noise went over the maximum allowed level, set by industry best practices, 20 times, according to data collected by the MTA. Some neighbors want an outside company to monitor the noise to ensure accuracy.

“It’s like the fox watching over the chicken coop,” Sunnyside Towers resident Tom Bernardi said.

Two weekends ago the towers almost evacuated the pool when rapidly rippling water from the drilling caused concern.

Other residents say the drilling has caused cracks in their 80-year-old homes.

The MTA has received one formal complaint, Ortiz said, saying it was a surface crack amounting to “what looks like a bad paint job.”

“There is no indication that the construction could cause structural damage in that area,” he said.

The construction began in 2001 and is estimated to wrap up in 2019.

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