By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Rev. Msgr. John Maloney doesn’t live near the R subway line, but he can tell you when the train is coming.
Maloney, pastor of Saint Anselm Roman Catholic Church at 356 82nd St., said he feels the vibrations of the R train as it rumbles beneath Fourth Avenue, even though the rectory where he resides is more than a quarter of a block away from the avenue.
“I live on the third floor of the rectory. And I know when the train is coming,” Maloney told the Brooklyn Eagle.
The vibration from the R train is something that Bay Ridge residents living along Fourth Avenue have been putting up with for years. But Maloney and other Bay Ridgeites said that in recent months the vibrations have been getting stronger and more sustained. “It has multiplied 10 times,” the pastor said.
“It used to be a slight rumbling sensation that you felt beneath your feet when you were at mass,” one parishioner told the Eagle. “Now it’s a very strong shaking.”
The main entrance to St. Anselm Church is located on Fourth Avenue between 82nd and 83rd Streets.
St. Anselm parishioners as well as parents of students at Saint Anselm Catholic Academy, located at 365 83rd St., around the corner from the church, were alarmed when a chunk of limestone fell from the fourth floor of the school building to the sidewalk below in January. Luckily no one was walking on the sidewalk at the time.
While it’s not certain that the limestone mishap had anything to do with the R train vibrations, Maloney and his parishioners are suspicious.
Maloney said that the school, built in 1926, passed a city Buildings Department inspection as recently as two years ago. “Is it an old building? Yes. But structurally we had no problems,” he said.
Maloney responded to the accident by placing additional scaffolding around the building.
It’s not clear what is causing the strengthening of the vibrations. Many residents have speculated that the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy in late 2012, which caused the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to shut down the Montague Street Tunnel for a 14-month repair project, also damaged the track bed in R train stations miles away in southern Brooklyn.
The vibration issue has come to the attention of city officials in Bay Ridge. Community Board 10 has received complaints not only from people living on Fourth Avenue, but from residents of buildings located on side streets off the avenue.
Doris Cruz, chairman of the Traffic and Transportation Committee of Community Board 10, stated at a board’s Feb. 24 meeting that many numerous have complained about the problem.
People have complained that their dishes rattle, their doors shake, and their nerves are shattered.
“The MTA said that the vibrations are usually track related and they are working on the tracks in Bay Ridge right now,” Cruz told board members at the meeting.
Maloney said the MTA dispatched engineers to St. Anselm’s School to test the vibrations. “They put a monitor in the basement for 24 hours. They went to apartment buildings along Fourth Avenue, too. The MTA report said that they recognize the vibrations are slightly elevated, but not to the degree where they would cause damage to a building,” he said.
When contacted by the Eagle, the MTA’s press office responded by emailing a statement outlining the actions taken by MTA New York City Transit to mitigate the situation.
“MTA NYCT has responded to the complaints raised by residents and other establishments by performing various inspections and made numerous vibration tests both along the right of way and in basements of several establishments on both Fourth Avenue and side streets. The inspection and tests reveal that vibration results are slightly elevated but not at a level that would cause structural damage and in order to rectify the situation, maintenance is currently underway,” the statement read. “The maintenance includes the very best available technology to reduce vibrations. We are working overnights to replace and repair rail which should mitigate the vibrations. This should be completed shortly, and at the conclusion NYCT will inspect and test again.”