If you live along the route being bored for Capitol Hill’s new light rail line, be careful about judging the unlucky victims of the Montlake Murmur.
“When I first read that article, I thought the Montlake people were just being complainers,” Candice tells CHS. But here’s what Candice posted in the CHS comments after a sleepless night in her home near Volunteer Park:
We live right next to Volunteer Park and we were up all last night and this morning – about 8 hours . It started around 9:00/9:30 and didn’t stop until after 5:30am. The Montlake residents were not exaggerating. And Sound Transit either are clueless or full of bullshit when they say residents of VP shouldn’t be affected by the drilling.
The vibrations grew harder, stronger and louder as the night went on. It rattled our beds and we could actually feel it in our bodies. Even when they paused momentarily I could feel reverberations in my head. They might as well have been digging to China in our basement. Kids couldnt sleep or stay asleep so school is off today (just one day back into it from the holiday break!), and we feel like zombies. And we know from lack of sleep as we have a young baby. This is truly horrible and I can’t imagine another night of it.
CHS talked to a sleepy Candice today. She’s a credible complainant — even though right now it appears she’s mostly alone in hearing and feeling the 21-foot diameter tunnel being dug some 300 feet below her neighborhood. Here’s the note Sound Transit sent in response to her email notifying the agency of the vibrations:
We are very sorry for the disturbance to your sleep last night and this morning, especially for your children. The tunnel boring machine is due west of your home under Volunteer Park. We estimate the horizontal distance at about 300 feet, and at that location the machine is about 300 feet underground.
It is very unusual for ground borne noise and vibration to travel such a distance at a level that is disturbing. We have had only one other complaint from a Capitol Hill resident about noise or vibration during this tunnel boring activity. You note the issues we have down in the Montlake neighborhood, but there the tunnels are only about 80 – 120 feet below the surface.
The machine under Volunteer Park is on a path headed south-southwest, away from your home, and it’s currently progressing at the rate of about 100 feet per day. The noise and vibration should diminish over the next day or two and then be gone.
Candice says that unlike the neighbors down in Montlake who are hearing and feeling vibrations from the supply trains traveling the bored tunnel route, she believes her 1906 home is experiencing a stronger shaking — “like a jackhammer almost” — that would correlate more with the operations of the massive tunnel boring machine digging some 300 feet below.
As CHS has previously reported, noise and vibration at the surface isn’t completely unexpected. The final 2006 Environmental Impact Statement for the project predicted issues and even called out a few locations where the vibrations were most likely. Issues around Volunteer Park where the tunnel runs deepest would be a more significant surprise:
Construction for all Segment B route tunnels, vent shafts/TPSS, and stations would involve the vibration-causing factors and impacts described above. Locations in Segment B where tunnel vibration could be an issue because of tunnel depth include the University of Washington Station on Montlake Boulevard; residences along E Hamlin in the Montlake Neighborhood; within 300 feet north and south of Boyer Avenue; and near the Capitol Hill Station along Broadways Avenue between E Thomas Street and E Howell Street. Vibration is also likely to be noticeable near the cut-and-cover construction area along Eastlake Avenue.
But one complication in the Montlake noise problems is also an issue on Capitol Hill. While Sound Transit has equipment in place to monitor ground movement that would indicate serious structural problems as the tunnel is bored, it says it doesn’t have noise or vibration monitors along the route. That leaves documenting the problems in the hands of residents.
Another segment of the light rail tunnels was recently completed between Broadway and downtown without any significant surface vibration issues, apparently.
Candice is not looking to shut down operations — mostly she’s looking for a quiet night for her family and to find out if there are others in the neighborhood who are suddenly experiencing the disturbance. “[Sound Transit] should let people know this might happen,” Candice said. She said she also might be interested in help from Sound Transit with finding a place to stay if the noise is truly only a one or two night issue.
If you’re experiencing the vibrations and want to contact Candice, let us know and we’ll connect you. You can also report issues to Sound Transit’s community outreach supervisor, Jeff Munnoch (phone: 206-398-5131, cell: 206-713-8677, mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)