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Rumble of Passing Trains an Unwelcome Distraction for Students at Queens School

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Any New Yorker knows the subway isn't easy on the ears, but it's especially loud at a Queens school located next to some elevated tracks, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is taking steps to try and lower the volume. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.

Any student this loud would be a sure shot for detention, but at P.S. 85 in Queens, the rumble of passing trains on the elevated N and Q tracks across the street is its unwelcome soundtrack.

"As you see right now, how can anybody learn anything if you can't hear me and this is every five minutes?" said one parent. "What are they going to do?"

Well, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority shut most of the Queens line that serves the N and Q last weekend as workers tightened loose track parts.

"Joints, you know, bolts that may have caused some of the noise right in front of that school," said MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz. "But that, in essence, is just a temporary fix. We have to go back and really replace decades-old equipment, and that's what we plan on doing in 2015."

For the parents and local officials who've complained about the noise for years, the finished product can't come soon enough.

"It's a very small first step, and a lot more needs to be done," said state Senator Michael Gianaris of Queens. "If you're standing out here more than a couple of minutes, you'll hear just how loud it gets, and it's still too loud for the kids."

Like Evie Hantzopoulos's daughter, whose third-grade classroom at the front of the school gets the train noise full blast.

"She describes it as loud, annoying," Hantzopoulos said. "She feels that they could learn better if they didn't have this distraction every few minutes."

Windows propped open aren't helping things.

It's so loud, the teachers and students have had to develop their own sign language, holding up signs every a train passes.

"They will do things like touching their chin, where the teacher will know that the lesson's not being conveyed. She has to stop," said Jose Gonzalez, a parent of a P.S. 85 student.

"Every three minutes, that goes on," said City Councilman Costa Constantinides of Queens. "So it breaks up their learning day, it takes away from their learning day."

Not so, according to the Department of Education, which said in a statement, "The issue is roughly 30 years old and there has been no interruption in instruction. We will work with the school on their concerns."

Those at the school will keep making those complaints, loudly.

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