Investigations

Brooklyn Bridge repairs deprive residents of sleep

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

For Karen Glasser, every night is the same routine.

"At 11 o'clock, I have to put on my air conditioner," she says. Karen Glasser uses fans and hypnotic audio to drown out the noise that has turned her nights into torture.

"The loudest part starts at around 2:30 in the morning, trucks backing up and beeping and the jack hammering is going on. It's just dreadful," Glasser adds.

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For six months now, from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., 7 days a week, overnight construction on the Brooklyn Bridge has deprived Ms. Glasser and 1500 families living in South Bridge Towers of countless hours of sleep.

Glasser has been using a video camera to document the nightly jack-hammering. Sometimes, on a good night, she says she sleeps for three or four hours.

South Bridge Tower resident John Quinn says the residents of the building are at a breaking point.

"I know it's affecting my health. I'm exhausted during the day, my wife is exhausted," Quinn said.

To get their overnight permits, contractors filed noise mitigation plans assuring the city they would use mufflers on noisy equipment, and isolate workers in sound reducing enclosures. However, the enclosures don't go far enough. When jackhammers are involved, the sound-reducing barriers typically have a roof to contain the noise, which is clearly not the case at the Brooklyn Bridge.

We've also learned that the City Department of Environmental Protection, which is supposed to enforce the noise code, rarely visits the site. Despite continued complaints , they have done little to get contractors to take additional measures to reduce the noise.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says the city has turned its back on tens of thousands of his constituents by refusing to close the bridge after rush hour and weekend days, to give residents a few nights of sleep.

"I'm not saying stop the work. What I am saying is you've got to balance here. You've got to balance the needs of the residents with the needs of the city," Silver noted.

The DOT said that closing the bridge during the day would displace tens of thousands of cars onto local streets during the busiest periods, including on weekends. This would have a tremendous impact on traffic.

But for thousands of residents, the noise will continue for 7 nights a week for at least another year.

The city says that closing the bridge during the day will only lengthen the time it will take to finish the project. Residents say there's no noise reduction oversight here which is consistent with the city's dismissive attitude toward their months of sleeplessness.

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Tags:
new york city, brooklyn, brooklyn bridge, sleep, investigations, jim hoffer
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