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MTA Refuses To Put Up Noise Mitigating Plants Next To Railroad Tracks


Nov. 23, 2015 By Christian Murray

The MTA is reneging on its promise to put up noise mitigating plants next to the railroad tracks on Barnett Avenue, according to community leaders.

Two MTA representatives spoke to members of Community Board 2’s Land Use committee Wednesday and said that the plants were no longer part of East Side Access project.

Eric Zaretsky, director of community outreach for the MTA East Side Access Project, said that once the retaining walls were built there was nowhere for any plantings to be rooted.

“There is no soil, it’s all rock,” Zaretsky said. “There’s no irrigation… and there is no budget to maintain it.”

Lisa Deller, chair of the Land Use Committee, said that there are constant complaints about noise stemming from the railway line and that this was promised when the MTA took on the task to build the $10 billion East Side Access, which will connect LIRR riders to Grand Central.

“It’s offensive,” Deller said, adding that the MTA had made this one “small concession” to the community.

Joe Conley, who sits on the committee, described it as a “betrayal to the community.”

“We asked for sound barriers to be put in [as part of East Side Access],” Conley said. “The LIRR came back and said it couldn’t put them in and the compromise was the plantings.”

Deller said that there is space between retaining walls and garages on Barnett for the landscaping. She argued that it was hard to believe with a budget of more than $10 billion the MTA could not make this happen.

Despite his earlier comment, Zaretsky responded that the budget is not the issue. He said that MTA experts said that it was impossible to grow plants there.

Patrick O’Brien, chairman of Community Board 2, said that the community was promised noise mitigation and if the MTA is no longer able to put up plants it should find some other mechanism to muffle the sound.

He asked Zaretsky to report back to the board in two weeks.

Zaretsky assured the board that he would report back to them after Thanksgiving.

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Theorem Ox

That’s the sad part. NOTHING will get done until somebody dies or there’s catastrophic damage to property due to their neglect and dereliction of duty. And maybe all that has to happen a couple of times too before those “in charge” even begin to think on doing something about it.

Of course, if private individuals undertake a private initiative with their own time, money and labor to do something – Watch the guys “in charge” cry foul, punitively throw the books at those who undertook the private initiative and waste money undoing (and eventually redoing) what should’ve been done a long time ago.

Del Toro

How much does a wall cost? Let Sunnyside Gardens community build the wall there on top of their ugly garages, why should LIRR or MTA pay for the noise reduction of few residents who can’t take the noise. I lived on 39th Towers for 7 years, just moved out of there last year, there was noise back then, and I got used to it, it never woke me up eventually it becomes a background noise. I get it that it will increase with more trains, but these new tracks will most likely be a lot quieter. Anyway, Sunnyside Gardens residents should take this up and instead of hanging on to those ugly useless “garages” and keeping them mostly empty, occupying precious sidewalk parking spaces, they should just build a wall there. It really doesn’t cost millions to build a wall, you don’t need union workers to build a wall. Get a licensed contractors and erect away.

Anonymous visitor

Even if there is soil there it is not fertile. Whatever they plant there will not thrive unless they will remove dead soil and change for one with nutrients. In our apartment building we try to plant 100 Virgina Creeper plants to block view of garbage and 10 years later few of them are growing but not vigorously. So I feel bad for people who were hoping for some solution to reduce noise coming from LIRR but I think they should insist on walls versus plants..


good point. especially by the tracks the soil is probably full of 100 years worth of steel dust and other contaminants.


I’m sure things will get taken care of rather quickly since JVB lives there and it will also affect him directly.

Anonymous visitor

If JVB had that much power the plantings would already be up. The railroad basically does what it wants to, Hello. Check underpasses from here to Montauk, they are all dirty because the LIRR says, “If we clean up one (station, underpass, siding) we will have to do them all.” The cost would be enormous, but I think they should be responsible anyway.


I’m not saying he has that much power, but I’m sure he definitely will be more involved with this issue compared to others within our neighborhood. This will be a priority for him.


it wont work with those clowns. the mta has unlimited cash and will drag this out in court. then they will triple the fares so they can pretend to cover the legal fees.


Is there an enforcer? Who can penalize them?

This is what happens when two parties of unequal power negotiate. I wouldn’t be surprised if at the next contact Zaretsky has been transferred and we get a sweet young person who just hasn’t gotten up to speed in their new job yet. Then the paperwork will get lost and that will be the end of that.


ahahaha! too funny and well said! zero property value imho. wouldnt even take it for free. i dont know how they can stand the screeching noise and late night train horns every minute of every day and night. worst of all, some schmuck is putting up another building next to the tracks from what i’ve read on this site. i guess its ok if you’re deaf or plan on becoming deaf.


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