Thursday, October 12, 2017

Opinion: Noisiest of the Night, Let's Put The Brakes On Jake Brakes in NYC!

New York City is often called "the city that never sleeps". While the slogan reflects a city that is vital and dynamic 24 hours a day, for many city residents the phrase is taken literally because there is a constant racket! Local politicians have taken notice and sound pollution has seen increased attention in the City Council. Ben Kallos, Representative for District 5, for instance, has introduced legislation that would require that all noise complaints are addressed within 2 hours. But how about regulating the noise?

Who are the culprits? Bars, clubs, construction sites and garbage trucks are frequently cited irritants. However, I believe that the noisiest of all is overlooked- trucks that use compression breaking systems, otherwise know as "Jake Brakes". Jake Brakes use the engine itself rather than a conventional brake to slow a truck down.  They are intended to slow a truck faster in the event of emergency, but are overused by truckers as they also reduce wear on the conventional brakes. The result from the compression of a Jake Brake is an ear splitting, window shaking low frequency rattle often described as a fast succession groan of "bap,bap, bap, bap, bap." How loud is this noise? An improperly muffled truck jake braking can be as loud as 105 decibels perhaps even louder, properly muffled, 85 decibels. For context, a garbage truck compacting trash during overnight hours is limited to 85 decibels. An increase of 10 decibels is 2 times louder, an increase of 20 decibels is 4 times louder. So, that semi rolling down your street utilizing the jake brake can be 4 times as loud as a garbage truck at full throttle. More examples of decibel levels for context: lawn mower 85 dB, motorcycle 88 dB, train 100dB, jackhammer 110 dB. So, if you are trying to sleep with the windows open, and you have survived the garbage trucks and the local drunks kicked out of the pubs, the trucks with jake brakes could be the last straw.

Why should the Jake Brake be banned in NYC with the exception of an emergency? That answer is easy. They are loud as all hell, they shake windows, disturb our sleep, and if trucks actually comply with the 25mph they are almost entirely unnecessary. Give us a break, ban the Jake Brake!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

East 86th In Pictures: Construction Chaos Climaxes, Sanity To Soon Prevail!

Anyone who has seen East 86th Street over the past two years can likely do more than simply shake their head. It has been a mess, an absolute mess! There has been water main replacement, gas main replacement, building demolition, and 2nd Avenue Subway construction. They are done, but wait, there are two last big projects that are being worked on- the restoration of the street after the various mains were replaced, and the East 86th Street Streetscape revamp.

The "restoration" involves tearing up the street where mains have been replaced, tamping down the soil, filling with concrete and paving over with asphalt. The "streetscape plan" (long advocated by the East 86th Street Association of which I am a member) replaces all curbs from 2nd Avenue to Park Avenue, expands sidewalks for bus bulbs, construction of pedestrian-friendly corner bump outs, expanding the size and number of tree pits, adding new trees, adding decorative tree guards and plantings to all the pits from 2nd Ave to Park, and adding planters and new street furniture. The numbers are impressive:

-15 new trees
- 3 trees replaced
- 304 Shrubs (18"-24")
- 37 Shamrock Inkberry Bushes (30"-36")- 2759 flowering bulbs- 301 ornamental Grasses (3 gallons each)- 204 perennials - 10 citibenches w backs- 58 new, matching tree guards

Fortunately, the last two projects are in the final stretch and all work is due to be completed by the end of November. If you want to keep track, the work is completed on the south side of East 86th, and they are now progressing with curbs, sidewalks and tree pits on the north side of 86th heading from east to west. They are approaching Lex, so a little more than a block to go. Or, follow @East86th on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Residents on or near East 86th Street, who have endured so much, are about to be repaid with plenty of green!

Here are the pictures from October 3rd, 2017. (Sorry, haven't figured out the slideshow function on Blogger yet!):

Bump out at Papaya King (86th &3rd)

Rubble on Lex & 86th

Expanding Sidewalk 86th & Third Ave

Ulta Beauty In A Box (86th & Third Ave)
Ulta Beauty In The Works (86th & Third Ave)

Working On A Gas Leak, Whoops! (86th & Third Ave)

Curb Work 86th Between Third Ave and Lex

Curvy Curve 86th Between Third and Lex

Bus Bulb On 86th Between Second and Third Aves
Bus Bulb Planter 86th Between Second and Third Aves

New Stairs For Lexington Ave Station

Bigger Tree Pit Awaits Guard and Flowers