Tag Archives: subway noise

New legislation to protect Astoria school from ‘disruptive’ subway noise


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Members of one Astoria school, located about 50 feet away from a subway platform, are hoping a new proposed bill will help bring “peaceful learning.”

The community at P.S. 85 is met daily with noise problems caused by the N and Q elevated subway line, which shakes windows and disrupts lessons, according to parents and teachers. 

Looking to bring a stop to the noise pollution, U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley announced on Monday the Peaceful Learning Act of 2014, new legislation that would require the formation of a program to lessen railway noise levels that “negatively impact” public schools in the city. 

“As another school year begins, it is unconscionable that so many children whose schools are located near elevated trains are forced to learn under these adverse conditions,” said Crowley. “If we are serious about helping our children reach their full potential, providing an adequate and peaceful learning environment is priority number one.” 

During the morning announcement, speakers were interrupted by trains passing by in front of the school. Teachers, parents and elected officials held up two fingers, a gesture used daily to pause school lectures every time a train passes.

During rush hour trains pass by every two minutes and during normal hours, every five minutes, according to officials.

The proposed federal bill will direct the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study on the impact of the subway noise on schools, determine acceptable ideas and evaluate the usefulness of noise reduction programs, according to the congressman.

Then schools that would be considered subject to unacceptable noise levels will be qualified to receive a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, together with local matching funds, to build barriers or acoustical shielding to soundproof the sites.

Last December, the P.S. 85 community and elected officials rallied to call on the MTA and Department of Education to help alleviate the noise problems.

“This cannot go on any longer. This school has been here for over a hundred years, trains came after, and the school has adjusted,” said Evie Hantzopoulos, vice president of the parent association at P.S. 85. “Our kids go with it, our teachers go with it. And we all know we shouldn’t get used to things that are bad for you.”

Rebecca Bratspies, who is director of the City University of New York School of Law Center for Urban Environmental Reform and also the parent of a third grader at P.S. 85, said last fall she and another parent, Eric Black, recorded a video from inside the classroom to show the level of noise students face. 

While they recorded, the parents measured the noise level in the classroom to be 90 decibels, almost double the normal standard. 

“[The children] come here every day trying hard to learn. They do their best,” said Bratspies. “Now we have to do our best.”

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Community demands end to disruptive subway noise by Astoria school


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Local elected officials and the P.S. 85 community in Astoria want to put a screeching halt to subway noise.

State Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. and Councilmember-elect Costa Constantinides joined community leaders, parents, teachers and students from P.S. 85 at a rally Tuesday to demand the MTA and Department of Education (DOE) alleviate noise problems created by the N and Q elevated subway line.

During the rally, speakers were constantly interrupted by a total of 16 trains that passed by in front of the school. Students, teachers and elected officials put up two fingers, a gesture used daily to pause school lectures, every time a train car passed.

“It is an unacceptable learning environment,” said Gianaris. “It’s been going on for decades and it’s something that shouldn’t be so difficult to fix as it apparently seems to be in the hands of the DOE and the MTA.”

Gianaris and Simotas sent a letter to both the MTA and DOE calling for the agencies to come up with noise reduction ideas, including installing soundproof windows, acoustic sound-absorbing tiles, rubber wheels on the trains, cushioning the rails with rubber pads, and putting up a sound barrier between the outdoor subways platform and the school.

“It’s hard enough to grab a child’s attention, but to have to do it over and over again is too much to ask. My father had acoustic tiles put in years ago, but times and technology have changed and more needs to be done,” said Vallone.

Vallone recently announced the MTA will be implementing a new technology on every train car on the N and Q subways lines, which will help reduce the noise of the air brakes at the lines’ last stop at the Astoria-Ditmars Boulevard station.

According to students and teachers, during rush hour trains pass by every two minutes and during normal hours, every five minutes.

“It’s not fair to take any time away from their education,” said Farhan Mahin, a fifth grader and P.S. 85 student council president. “We want quiet now. This is our cause and we will not stand for anything else.”

According to Rebecca M. Bratspies, professor of law and director of The City University of New York School of Law Center for Urban Environmental Reform, a recent study revealed the sound noise in the P.S. 85 classrooms was close to 90 decibels, almost double the normal standard.

“The noise outside P.S. 85 is unfair to our children and does not supply them with a conducive learning environment,” said Constantinides, whose son attends P.S. 85. “We owe them better than the distracting environment they currently inhabit at PS 85.”

According to DOE spokesperson Marge Feinberg, P.S. 85 is a high-performance school which received an A on its recent Progress Report and some classrooms already have acoustic tiles.

“Instruction is not being disrupted,” said Feinberg. “Some classrooms have acoustic tiles. The 1st floor has five rooms with acoustic tile facing the front of the building. The 2nd floor has three rooms plus the auditorium facing the front of the building. The 3rd floor has two rooms facing the front of the building. They are all facing the side of the building exposed to the train.”

Terminal switches for the Ditmars Boulevard subway station are located right by the school making the noise problem at the site hard to fix, according to MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz.

“These switches are scheduled for replacement in the next capital plan (2015-2019).  In the meantime, we have dispatched crews to tighten any loose bolts or joints that may contribute to noise,” Ortiz said.

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Partly cloudy. High of 79. Winds from the WNW at 5 to 10 mph. Tuesday night: Partly cloudy in the evening, then clear. Low of 68. Winds from the West at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Biala: Vision and Memory

Janice Biala (1903-2000) was well known for her charming interiors, still-lifes, and landscapes. This exhibition is the first comprehensive survey of the artist’s career, featuring 50 paintings, collages, and drawings from public and private collections and the Estate of Biala, and two paintings from the Godwin-Ternbach Museum’s permanent collection. The exhibit will be at the museum, located at Queens College, through October 26. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

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