The project will link a new Long Island Rail Road terminal at Grand Central Station in Manhattan with lines in Queens. At the moment, the MTA is driving piles of metal sheets into the earth in the rail yard parallel to Barnett Avenue between 45th and 49th streets.
When the metal comes into contact with large boulders it makes a loud, disruptive noise. MTA officials asked the contacted to avoid the boulders, but admitted it was difficult to determine exactly where the boulders are located.
“This is work we cannot stop, but you must respect the homeowners and the residents of this community,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “You must treat everyone with dignity and respect.”
The councilman lives within blocks of the project, and said he is aware of the problem firsthand. At one point, he approached workers and demanded that they provide him with a decibel study.
The MTA released a study showing that, on average, the work being done is roughly 70 decibels, which is compliant with the city guidelines for construction.
However, Van Bramer points out that the same study shows the MTA violated the noise limit of 90 decibels 20 separate times during one day of construction.
“They have rules and regulations that restrict what they can do and how they can do it,” said Bramer. “They did not follow those rules.”
Bramer also claims the MTA did not properly notify the community that the work was going to take place.
“That is absolutely incorrect,” countered an MTA spokesperson, who said the councilman's office was notified of the project.
“We asked the councilman to include information about the project in his newsletter,” the spokesperson said. “He said no.”
"I'm not going to do the MTA's dirty work for them," countered Van Bramer. "I’m trying to get the MTA to do their job.”
Van Bramer also claims the MTA is working too late into the night, going beyond the 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. work hours stated on construction permits, another reason Van Bramer said he would not include information about the project in his newsletter.
“I’m not going to disseminate information to my constituents that is false,” he said.
However, the representative from the MTA said those “are self-implemented windows of work,” and that no laws were being broken.
The MTA responded to allegations that they had not tested the noise level in the area saying that they were constantly monitoring. “That is an outright lie,” said Van Bramer, who said that workers have personally told him that noise level testing was not going on.
In addition to the lack of community notification, noise pollution and long work hours, Bramer accused the MTA of causing property damage to the homes of local residents.
“We were woken up so many times in the spring with the late-night drilling,” said Cathy Daniels, a community member who lives on 45th Street. “I have a friend who lives on 44th and she’s seen cracks in her ceiling because of the sound.”
The MTA has sent out a team of experts to inspect a claim that a Sunnyside resident made regarding damage caused by vibrations from the East Side Access project. However, when the team arrived they discovered the issue was with cracks in the paint.
“It was most likely a bad paint job,” said the MTA spokesperson.