Updated, 1:41 p.m. Nov. 27: Meeting has been moved to 20 Marshall St.; 10:29 a.m.: Copy edits
NORWALK, Conn. – Noise from Walk Bridge-related construction is making life difficult for East Norwalk resident Tessa Lee Orgera.
The nighttime rock grinding is just part of the problem; Orgera said the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) cut down all the trees behind Reboda Court six months ago “and left things wide open for all the kids in our neighborhood in danger.”
Norwalkers with similar concerns are invited to a Walk Bridge Program public information meeting Wednesday in the Walk Bridge Welcome Center, located at 20 Marshall St. There will be two sessions with identical info presented, at 4 p.m. and at 6:30 p.m.
Orgera’s complaints stem from the “CP243” project now underway in the Norden Place area. ConnDOT is installing a series of track switches that will allow railroad traffic to reduce from four tracks to two, a necessary preliminary step for replacement of the aged Walk Bridge railroad crossing over the Norwalk River.
Orgera said ConnDOT cut down the trees six months ago, then put up a temporary fence that “blew down the tracks with the first big wind.”
That was replaced with a permanent steel barrier that “does nothing” for the neighborhood or the kids, because her family lives less than 100 feet from the cliff that leads to the tracks, and the trees and vegetation had kept the children away from a 50-foot drop, Orgera wrote to NancyOnNorwalk.
Orgera complained about noise in a Nov. 17 Facebook post, in which she told sympathizers that she had called Norwalk Police and been told to call the State Police, then the State Police told her to call the Metropolitan Transit Authority.
Noise has been a topic at previous Walk Bridge information meetings; ConnDOT project engineer Stacey Epps in June said that ConnDOT is allowed to produce 90 decibels of noise, in defiance of the Norwalk noise ordinance.
“We govern ourselves, we are also governed by EPA (Environmental Protection Agency),” Epps said, citing state statutes.
ConnDOT has been grinding rocks day and night near Reboda Court, from 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., ConnDOT Director of Communications Judd Everhart wrote to NancyOnNorwalk last week. Although no work was done over the Thanksgiving holiday, it was slated to resume today, Nov. 26, and continue through Sunday, Dec. 16, he said.
“Work immediately adjacent to and requiring access to the tracks must take place at night, as that is when Metro-North Railroad can provide track outages on the New Haven Line due to train schedules,” Everhart wrote. “The Department understands that noise and illumination impacts from construction is a concern of residents. The Program is in the process of evaluating options to lessen these impacts.”
ConnDOT received two inquiries regarding the work, one sent through State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) and the other a voicemail left at the Walk Bridge Welcome Center.
Orgera confirmed that she had left the voicemail. She hadn’t yet connected with ConnDOT, she wrote Wednesday.
The rock grinding is being done on the south side of the New Haven Line, between Howard Avenue and Bridge Street, according to a ConnDOT “Construction news” email blast. The e-mail also announced track work on the Danbury Branch between Marshall Street and Jennings Place, part of the Danbury Branch Dockyard project, which will provide an area for trains to turn around as the Walk Bridge is replaced. That, too, is creating nighttime noise, according to the e-mail, and intermittent pile driving on the Norwalk River is also creating noise and vibrations between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.. Work on Ann Street continues, with alternating one-way traffic and daytime noise.
Topics at Wednesday’s meeting include
- The scope of the Walk Bridge program
- Walk Bridge design considerations
- Environmental mitigations
- Program construction schedule and Walk Bridge staging
The presentation will be live-streamed and then archived on the Walk Bridge Facebook page, the email said.
ConnDOT is also holding an open house at the Walk Bridge Welcome Center, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at 20 Marshall St.
“Bring your children to build and color bridges, and experience the 240’ Vertical Lift Walk Bridge Replacement through virtual reality goggles,” ConnDOT states on its website. “Program representatives will be available to answer questions and lead children’s activities. Light refreshments will be provided.”
Noise outside Orgrera’s home, on Nov. 17:
Noise inside the home, on Nov. 17 (at 10 seconds into the video):