LIRR a less noisy neighbor in Forest Hills

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Residents of Forest Hills may be receiving relief from what they have described as a disastrously deafening din debilitating their daily lives.

Members of the community who live near the local Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) station have complained that the noise created by the train’s door chimes and speaker announcements has been intrusive and disruptive, greatly affecting the standard of living in the area.

“It’s like living in a train yard,” said Martin Levinson, who has lived adjacent to the station since 1982. “It is like the train is coming through your bedroom or living room. Every time a train comes through you feel like you are on the platform. You have this noise blasted at you. You can hear it all through the neighborhood. A friend of mine who lives a mile away hears it.”

Levinson says the noise has been so powerful that he has been forced to “blast” his television and keep the windows closed, even during the summer, in hopes of drowning it out.

“Forest Hills is a very busy station,” said Levinson, whose wife wants to move due to the noise pollution. “You are constantly subjected to these loud noises 24/7. You can’t say I just moved in either. I’ve lived here for 25 years. I know what it’s like living near a railroad, and I enjoy living by the railroad. But all of a sudden, in 2010, they started this noise pollution with these chimes and speakers.”

Other residents have been forced to interrupt daily activities due to the clamor.

“We expect noise from trains, but it’s these chimes and announcements that are too loud,” said Inas Kelly, an Economics professor at Queens College who lives across from the station. “I can’t have my windows open comfortably, and it keeps me from sleeping soundly. You have to stop what you’re doing, and if you’re having a conversation, you have to pause until the noise stops. It negatively affects me daily.”

According to an LIRR spokesperson, the railroad has received positive responses from residents regarding recent measures taken to reduce the noise pollution emanating from the station.

“We have worked closely with Forest Hills community and other areas we serve on this issue and are pleased to hear that residents notice an improvement,” said the spokesperson. “The LIRR has shut off the external speakers on the train cars in question. We also have reduced the door chimes sound by 10 decibels by closing the chime shutters and installing a muffling device.”

Levinson acknowledges the changes, and has noticed an improvement in the past several weeks, but admits he is hesitant to let his guard down too soon.

“The people who run the railroad live far from stations, so they don’t care,” he said. “It took them too long to make these changes, and the residents near the tracks don’t trust them. We now worry they will do something else. I feel the LIRR is like the old Communist governments before the fall of the Berlin War. They are unaccountable to the people, and they feel they can do whatever they want.”