Tukwila residents: Light rail gives us earache

Tukwila residents: Light rail gives us earache
TUKWILA, Wash. -- Some local homeowners are asking Sound Transit to hush up.

The residents on East Marginal Way South say the noise the new light rail is forcing on their neighborhood far exceeds the minimal noise they were promised during the design and building phases. They claim the noise from the testing runs is so loud that their ears hurt.

"The train is louder, a lot louder than we expected and a lot louder than Sound Transit said it would be," said David Shumate.

"It's a higher-pitched squeaking," said Lynn Sires, who says the noise wakes her up.

Shumate even bought a decibel meter to measure the noise reverberating out to his house and his neighbors. The noise registered as high as 88 decibels. An average vacuum cleaner runs at about 75 to 80 decibels.

Shumate and his neighbors took their complaint to Sound Transit, but didn't get very far.

"They said the train adheres to federal standards and case closed," he said.

KOMO News took the complaints to Sound Transit spokesman Bruce Gray.

"We can make predictions in final design for what the noise is going to be. When you're up and running sometimes that different, and we go out and we deal with it after the fact," he said. "Part of it is the newness of getting used to the system."

Gray said Sound Transit has already taken one set of sound readings and are in the process of taking another.

But as far as the residents are concerned, there have been enough readings. They want a sound barrier installed along the rail, just like the one in another neighborhood about a mile south.

Gray said a sound barrier is a possibility, but Sound Transit is still exploring all options.

"We're going to look at the noise levels and see where we're at in this neighborhood. And based on that, walls may be one option and another option may be insulating -- soundproofing someone's house," he said.

Sound Transit has already insulated a number of homes in the Rainier Valley. Air conditioning units were added to several homes where noise was likely to interfere with daily life during the open-window months.