Say no to 7 a.m. construction noise

It is an outrage to have normal routines distrupted because MnDOT has picked such an early hour at random.

by John Hoff

You’re sick of hearing about the bridge disaster?

Imagine how you’ll feel once you actually start to hear the pile drivers every day, the steel hitting steel with a resounding clang that makes the pulp in your teeth feel electrified. It will be bad enough walking around on campus, but what about those poor souls who live right next to the bridge, many of whom are also students and/or University employees?

The minute I read about the plan for 7 a.m. bridge construction in an excellent news article by Daily reporter Liz Riggs, I couldn’t help but think, “Is MnDOT out of its collective mind?”

Consider what residents near the former I-35W Bridge have suffered already before 7 a.m. construction noise is added to the picture.

First, people living near the bridge were among the first to heroically respond to the disaster, helping the wounded and enduring traumatic sights and experiences. Next, nearby residents endured a massive influx of media and sightseers, not just on the day of the accident but for weeks and months afterward.

Due to the missing bridge, travel in the Twin Cities has been severely disrupted, but it seems likely that individuals who live near the bridge may be enduring some of the greatest inconveniences.

These neighborhoods have experienced a double whammy of rerouted traffic plus a missing bridge that may have been part of their daily commute. For example, anybody who goes into the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood can see how a residential street has basically been transformed into the new I-35.

But to add 7 a.m. noise on top of all this is the purest, most highly-distilled form of 200-proof outrage.

Who gets up at 7 a.m.? In my observation, that unholy hour belongs to crying babies, suburban commuters and members of the ROTC who run through campus singing songs to motivate themselves, which is exactly what you need to do at that hour of the day. Well, that and caffeine, lots of it.

It’s one thing to have jobs or duties which require you to be up at an early hour. I’m not sympathetic to people who whine because they have to get up early for work or class. In fact, I am a teaching assistant at a Friday lab that starts at 8 a.m., so I usually set my clock for 6:30 a.m. To motivate myself to crawl out of my nice warm bed, I sing marching cadences, just like those dedicated ROTC guys.

C-130, rolling down the strip / Airborne ranger gonna take a little trip / Step up, hook up, shuffle to the door / Jump right out at the count of four.

It’s one thing to rise early to milk cows or get little children started on a healthy routine of sugary cereal and Saturday morning cartoons. Get up, I say. Do your duty and do not complain. There will be sleep enough in the grave.

But it is an outrage to have normal routines disrupted because MnDOT has picked some early hour out of a hat, in a neighborhood filled with college students whose routines may be adjusted to, for example, hitting the sack at midnight and rising at 8 a.m.

The incompetence and arrogance of MnDot is already splattered all over the front page, as shocking new details emerge of how transportation manger Sonia Pitt allegedly (ever-so-allegedly) transformed her highly paid job into opportunities for personal travel and paid time spent with close friend (ever-so-close) Daniel Ferezan.

If Pitt never sees the inside of a prison cell for this (merely alleged but overwhelmingly well-documented) misconduct, then our justice system is broken and somebody needs to apologize to crack dealers doing hard time.

The system will deal with Pitt. It wouldn’t surprise me if an indictment were handed down today or by the end of the week. And, obviously, the suffering of individuals injured or losing loved ones in the bridge disaster is much worse than the suffering of residents near the bridge.

All the same, somebody at MnDOT needs to start having more regard for these residents, at least when it comes to early morning construction noises.

Though the bridge needs to be rebuilt – and that will be a noisy process – it would be appropriate to have input from residents of the neighborhood about which hours work best for construction noise before the worst noise begins, not after.

Maybe 7:30 a.m. isn’t an unreasonable compromise. Then again, maybe 9 a.m. is the only acceptable hour. Residents need to be the ones making the decision, so there should be a formal poll.

Also, what will be the unintended fallout of the bridge noise? Will the closest residents be unable to arm their car alarms, because vibrations will set them off? Will pet parakeets bang themselves against the bars of their cage in a panic?

MnDOT needs to do a lot more than merely set up a project hotline for concerns. All the same, if you want the hotline number, here it is: 612-236-6901.

If only there were a hotline to register an opinion that Pitt should receive no soft plea bargain but should do time (for example) in the women’s prison in Shakopee for turning a public trust into her own personal pleasure fund.


John Hoff welcomes comments at [email protected]