With the benefits of a subway come the detriments of constructionBy
It has become cliched to discuss the ways in which the Second Ave. Subway construction is impacting the Upper East Side. Residents have been complaining for years; businesses have struggled; and rent, as The Times has so kindly pointed out, is going down. In fact, as the MTA has moved further along in the process, the complaints have only grown louder.
And those complaints are numerous. Besides the issues surrounding the physical presence of construction, Upper East Siders have complained about the location of station entrances, the hours of blasting and the hours of truck service into and out of the site. They have bemoaned dust and have even tried to claim that their dogs are suffering animal post-traumatic stress from the constant blasting. I’m sure once the subway is open, they’ll complain about headways the lack of a full line.
Now, I don’t mean to belittle these complaints. The MTA has not been, for much of the project, a very good neighbor. The launch box site in the low 90s was a mess for years, and the authority has learned to mitigate the spread of dust and debris through an awkward trial-and-error process during construction. It hasn’t been particularly easy for residents, and some of their complaints have merit.
That said, their latest stink stinks. Because of their previous complaints, the MTA has had to adjust work hours, and now residents are complaining about the impact of their earlier complaints because work is now going on into the night. DNA Info broke the story:
MTA officials are considering nighttime visits to apartments around East 72nd Street, after repeated complaints by residents who say the overnight construction for the Second Avenue subway is keeping them awake. Engineers for the authority are planning the visits to hear — and feel — for themselves what’s going on late-night and try to find ways to mitigate the problems, MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said…
Ortiz said in an email that the MTA had tried shifting the drilling work to daytime hours, but said that was only “partially effective” since the construction must be completed in a specific order and there was no arrangement of work that would prevent the drilling from happening at night. The MTA is restricted to blasting between 3 and 7 p.m., and there’s no trucking allowed after 10 p.m. Therefore, the window for drilling to prep for the blasting has to occur in the middle of the night, Ortiz explained.
Unfortunately, the DNA Info story, while quite representative of the neighbor’s complaints, doesn’t tell the fully story. Why does the MTA have to do work overnight? Because residents asked the authority’s contractors not to conduct blasting after 7 p.m. and not to allow trucks in after 10 p.m. The MTA eventually obliged, but the flip side of this compromise in a 24-hour work site means late-night work. Now, the residents are complaining about the work the MTA must conduct in order to adhere to the blasting and trucking deadlines. It is seemingly a catch-22.
It’s hard not to be a bit skeptical here. If the Upper East Side residents had their ways, the MTA wouldn’t have a window to do the work it needs to do to build a subway. There wouldn’t be time to prep for blasting or remove the debris. There would be a 10-hour workday, and construction would take five extra years and billions more. No one wants that.
Building a subway is messy work, especially when the route goes through such a densely populated area. We don’t yet know what the future holds for the Second Ave. subway, but we know that Phase 1 will continue, noise and all. It’s the price we pay for progress.