July 16, 2014
Bridge construction noise has been a nuisance to our village, particularly since the start of sheet pile driving for the new bridge buttress on River Road. There have been numerous complaints from residents, and the Board of Trustees and Task Force have been most concerned about enforcement of noise control measures that are required in the construction contract.
A few weeks ago, the Task Force and I sent a letter of complaint about the noise to the Thruway Authority’s project director. The Trustees also hired a consultant with expertise in noise measurement and mitigation to advise us. As a result of pressure from the Village, yesterday morning we met with environmental compliance managers from both Tappan Zee Constructors (TZC) and the Thruway Authority (TA). The managers are responsible for enforcing the noise limits and, at the meeting, answers to many of our questions were finally received.
We were told that, indeed, the sheet pile driving has been louder than allowed, with the loudest noise violations caused not by the pile driving equipment, but from the long sheets of steel banging into each other and reverberating as they are driven into the ground.
TZC stated that TA oversight and automated alerts have on occasion directed them to mitigate noise which resulted in some changes to the way that the work is carried out. However, we were disappointed to learn that further reductions in noise are apparently impractical. TZC also stated that the loudest noise comes from the longest sheets. The remaining sheets are progressively shorter, so the worst noise excesses should be over. The driving of these sheets is expected to be completed by no later than a week from this Friday. We stressed that the Village does not find it acceptable for TZC to continue to exceed their own noise limits and further pressed them and TA to enforce the contractual noise obligations.
We learned that once the on-land sheet driving is complete, TZC will begin construction of underwater “cofferdams” near the shoreline. The work is expected to begin in about two weeks and will once again involve driving sheet piles. But, TZC claims that, since the sheets will mostly be underwater, noise levels should not be as high as the ones on land. We requested assurance that noise will stay below the limits.
We were told that the fixed-station noise monitors at Salisbury Point, Bradford Mews/Eagle Rock, Ferris Lane, and other locations automatically alert TZC and TA when sound levels approach the limit, and that staff from both entities have occasionally been deployed to the construction site with handheld sensors to check the validity of the monitor readings. Each noise violation triggers an investigation, a mitigation action plan, and a summary report. We requested that the Village be added to the auto-alert list and receive copies of the noise incident logs and summary reports.
The TZC and TA environmental compliance managers urged Village residents and officials to contact them any time we think the noise is excessive, regardless of what is displayed on the on-line noise graphs. Our complaints are an important part of their internal enforcement program. If at any time you experience excessively disruptive noise, please call the hotline: 855-TZBRIDGE (855-892-7434).
We made additional requests for improvements in monitoring, notifications, and data access. The Thruway Authority has agreed to share the noise data and the monitoring methodology with our consultant, so he can evaluate it and advise us. The TZC/TA staff acknowledged that acting upon our requests is essential for helping to keep residents and Village officials within the information loop.
We are committed to defending our village and our residents’ right to quiet enjoyment and are doing our best to minimize disturbances imposed on us by the construction.
Bonnie R. Christian
Mayor, Village of South Nyack