Saint Anselm’s Church and Bay Ridge residents complain of intense disturbance from R train

Shaken faith! Subway noise creating cracks in church school, priest says

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Ridgites along Fourth Avenue say the subway is leaving them shaken.

Leaders at Saint Anselm’s Catholic Church and School on Fourth Avenue between 82nd and 83rd streets — directly above the R line — say the vibrations of passing trains has grown louder and more jarring in the past few months.

“We’ve always known that the train was there, but the vibration now is 10 times,” said Monsignor John Moloney. “In the school now you actually feel like the train is going to come into the room, it’s that strong.”

The increased rumbling from the line coincided with the appearance of cracks in the exterior brickwork and limestone trim of both the school and the church — something unseen since they were built 88 and 62 years ago, respectively. Last week, a chunk of limestone actually broke off the school and tumbled four stories to the sidewalk. Thankfully, no children were injured in that incident, but Moloney worries what might happen as more pieces come loose.

“If it’d hit, it would have killed somebody,” Moloney said. “Why is the limestone falling off now?”

Workers from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority visited the school and placed instruments in the basement to measure the vibrations — but the agency claims it found only slightly elevated levels, not enough to damage a building. The MTA said that the noise is a result of 30-year-old rails, and promised it would fix the problem soon.

“We are working overnights to replace and repair rail which should mitigate the vibrations. This should be completed shortly,” said an agency spokesman.

Local leaders applauded the news that repairs are underway, but noted that dozens of people have called in to complain.

“These are longtime Bay Ridge residents who have never experienced vibrations to this degree. When you have 30 complaints, that means there is a problem,” said Josephine Beckmann, district manager for Community Board 10.

Residents say the quaking is becoming unbearable — both for themselves and for their buildings.

“The vibrations are so bad, it feels like I’m on the Cyclone,” said Pam Pazarecki, who has lived along the thoroughfare for 48 years. “These are buildings that are what, 100 years old? They can’t take this!”

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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