Here are some notes and news from Wednesday night’s Sound Transit meeting to update status on construction of the Capitol Hill light rail station and University Link tunnels. The entire presentation from the meeting is embedded below.
Now the news:
- Sound Transit is working with the city to make pedestrian improvements including crosswalks on Olive and Denny Ways. More on that below.
- Seattle’s new noise ordinances went into effect on Wednesday and Sound Transit is readying its application for a variance to allow for 24-hour work. The city will determine the schedule for hearings and public comment but Sound Transit deputy project manager Ron Endlich said his agency’s application will be sent to the city “within weeks.” Presenter Jeff Munnoch said that Sound Transit’s Beacon Hill work generated 10 noise complaint calls in 5 years.
- The construction walls designed to limit noise and dust from the station work site are going to be a blessing and curse when they go up in 2010 — and stay up until 2015. The walls will be 8′ tall on the Broadway side, 16′ on the 10th Ave. Yup, 16 feet tall. Apparently, Broadway is 8 feet higher than 10th, btw, so the fence tops will be level around the site. So, they’ll help stop noise and dust with all their many-feet-tallness. But they’ll also be imposing. Sound Transit says it is planning an art effort to make the walls more interesting and will also look into adding some kind of plexiglass view areas so you can peer in to see the work being done at the site.
- Sound Transit will have noise monitoring machines in place to measure the construction site. They even had one of the little boxes at the meeting. Here’s a picture.
- The citizens in attendance brought up some good points and asked a few tough questions including these paraphrased Q&As:
Q: Is Sound Transit requesting the noise law variance to enable 24×7 construction as a cost cutting measure?
A: It’s a safety issue. It’s safer to keep the tunnel boring machine operating. (though the ST slide lists these factors: Maximizes project safety, efficiency, duration and cost)
Q: Does Sound Transit have information about the effect of construction noise beyond the immediate Broadway/10th Ave area?
A: We’ll get back to you.
Q: Did Sound Transit compare Capitol Hill’s population density with Beacon Hill’s?
A: Clearly Beacon Hill and Capitol Hill are two different neighborhoods…
Q: Does Sound Transit require its contractors to use new machinery that might work more quietly than old machinery?
A: Contractors must use ‘best available’ technology, per contract requirements.
Q: What about the bus stop on John near Broadway?
A: Proposing to move it one block east.
Here is the presentation for you to peruse. More notes and some images from the slides below.
Sound Transit shared data from a noise study a consultant prepared for the agency. Note that the ‘existing’ noise on Broadway is listed at 60 decibels, or somewhere between a conversation and the ‘interior of a department store.’
Sound Transit is expecting construction noise to raise noise on Broadway up to 8% and up to 26% on 10th Ave. A few citizens at the meeting voiced concerned about noise levels beyond Broadway and 10th Ave but Endlich said he would have to ask the noise consultant if they had more information about the concerns. He also said property owners that live above tunnel route should experience no ‘noticeable noise’ or vibrations.
To help lower noise levels — and help gain the variance the agency needs for round-the-clock work — Sound Transit plans the construction walls noted above, dampening material on equipment like compressors and generators and limits on the kind of work that can happen at night. It will also have rules in place to limit truck noise including a ban on compression brakes, a 5-minute idle limit, and no ‘beep beep beep’ tones from the trucks when they back up at night.
Seattle Department of Transportation’s Ethan Melone was also on hand to answer questions about planned pedestrian improvements for the construction area. He said Sound Transit is paying for a crosswalk and a curb bulb to help make walking in the area safer as truck traffic increases to up to
5 trucks per minute 1 truck every 5 minutes leaving the construction area during peak activity. Melone said the goal is to have the improvements in place before the digging phase of the project begins. He also said the Olive Way crossing is being planned but the solution for the busier street is still being discussed.
Melone also spoke about the city’s streetcar project which could be in place as early as 2012. As the streetcar line on Capitol Hill will be paid for by Sound Transit, the city has agreed construction of the line won’t interfere with light rail work. Melone said the likely solution for that is an interim teriminus for the streetcar, possibly in the Pike/Pine area, before extending the line to the Capitol Hill light rail station when it is completed in 2016.