Stop the Screech: Assemblyman Calls for Less Subway Noise

By Shannon Liao, Epoch Times

NEW YORK—Assemblyman William Colton’s bill to reduce subway noise is sitting on the governor’s desk, pending approval. 

Colton first introduced the bill last year hoping to improve the quality of life in Brooklyn, particularly in Bensonhurst where a noisy elevated D train line has plagued locals for years.

Colton pointed to Hilner Tires as an example of a local business hurt by the subway noise and vibrations.

Hilner Tires owner Louis Gellman was fined $30,000 by the city for stress cracks found on the sidewalk. Property owners are required by law to pay for maintaining the sidewalk.

Gellman believes the cracks originated from the subway noise vibrations and the sinking of steel pillars that support the elevated D train line into the sidewalk over time.

“Anybody who stands here can feel the vibrations by the pillar on the sidewalk,” said Colton.

Gellman stated in a press release, “Every time the train comes by, my entire building and everything inside of it shakes. And the noise is horrific.”

He requested reimbursement but the MTA denied him the money. 


District leader Nancy Tong sided with Gellman as well, saying, “I don’t think this is right. It’s not caused by them, actually, it’s caused by the MTA who should be looking into it and seeing what they can do to fix the problem. I don’t think the business should be slapped with this bill.”

As a passing D train drowned out Colton’s words, he remarked, “I don’t know about you, but my ears are hurting from that.” 

Colton said he personally measured the sound levels onsite to be over 100 decibels, as loud as a power saw. Exposure to 100-decibel noise for over fifteen minutes can damage hearing.

The governor has 10 days to veto the bill, which will require the MTA to report yearly efforts at noise abatement. Such reports are a thing of the past, since the law mandating the submission of such reports expired in 1995. 

Spokeswoman Amanda Kwan said in an emailed statement that the MTA could not comment on pending legislation but the authority routinely investigates locations with noise complaints.

Ongoing Complaints

This isn’t the first time residents in Bensonhurst have complained about the D train.

In 2010, work on the elevated D train line attracted a slew of noise complaints from the area. The MTA responded by greasing the tracks to reduce the noise, adding that wearing-in the new track would further minimize the problem. However, the proposed solutions did not resolve the noise issue.

Tim Law, a member of Brooklyn Community Board 11 who has lived in the neighborhood for 35 years, suggested trains could slow down when crossing the curve as a solution. 

Colton attributes the excessive noise that intensified four years ago to poor track maintenance.

“The solution is not a simple fix with a grease gun,” he said, “We hear it, feel it, see it.” 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article attributed a pull quote to the wrong person. The person who said, “The solution is not a simple fix with a grease gun,” is Assemblyman William Colton. Epoch Times regrets the error.