A Manhattan assemblyman is asking the city to set up a SWAT team to force MTA contractors building the Second Avenue subway line to follow city rules protecting the health of residents. NY1's Transit reporter Tina Redwine filed the following report.
State Assemblyman Micah Kellner says ever since construction began on the Second Avenue subway line on Manhattan's Upper East Side, MTA contractors have blatantly violated city rules protecting public health.
"The MTA has continually disregarded the health and safety of this community," said Kellner.
NY1 cameras recently caught several examples that seemed to confirm that: dust spewing into the air from the work sites, workers not spraying down the debris and trucks not covering their loads.
The assemblyman said he is fed up.
"Even if we catch them on three consecutive days with trucks leaving untarped and not following the proper truck routes, the MTA says, 'Oh, that’s an anomaly.' It’s always an anomaly, it’s never their fault, it’s not their job," said Kellner. "Well you know what? We’re going to make it someone else’s job and the MTA is going to have to follow all the proper rules and regulations."
Kellner has sent a letter to the city’s deputy mayor for operations asking for the mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement to coordinate all city agencies to better police the project.
City Hall officials say they can fine MTA contractors, but state law prohibits them from overseeing MTA activities.
Residents say it is about time someone holds the MTA accountable for cleaning up its act.
"Sometimes you're in a restaurant and they'll just be loud noise and dust. You don't want that in a neighborhood, you want it to be safe," said a New Yorker.
The MTA says it is already working with city agencies to minimize the impact of the construction and encouraging the NYPD to enforce the rules on trucks carting debris from the site.
The agency says it is also checking that trucks are properly covered and that any trucker violating the rules will be fired.
The MTA says it is also continuing to monitor the air quality closely. Meanwhile, Kellner encourages all residents who see something, to say something.