Bridge construction could make a racket

Pile driving for the reconstruction of the I-35W bridge is expected to be audible as far as Coffman Union.

by Liz Riggs

Rooted along a major interstate and located on the edge of downtown Minneapolis, there’s rarely been a time when the neighborhoods on the north and south sides of the Interstate 35W bridge span have been noise-free.

Still, these high-traffic areas are about to become a whole lot louder, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Beginning as early as tomorrow, the construction team for the new bridge will be using a technique called “pile driving,” which involves steel-on-steel pounding. MnDOT is warning the activity will generate “significant noise.”

“You’ll be able to sit over at Coffman Union and hear it echoing down by the river,” said MnDOT spokesman Kevin Gutknecht.

Be Heard

Anyone seeking information or looking to voice their concerns about the project, including problems associated with noise, is asked to call a new MnDOT hotline at 612-236-6901

Although Gutknecht said much of the work will be concentrated on the south side of the site, near the West Bank, he said he was virtually certain it would be audible on the north end as well.

MnDOT has said the pile driving will only take place between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., but for students who live near the site and attend classes close by, it’s not hard to see how the 10-and-a-half-hour days might easily make someone miserable.

Sophomore Morgan Gooch, who lives at the corner of 10th and University avenues Southeast, across from the construction site, said this won’t be the first time bridge-related work has been noisy.

“When they were taking it down, it was loud,” she said.

Gooch also said the 7 a.m. start time is a bit early for her.

“Maybe 8:00 would be a little better,” Gooch said.

“It’ll be annoying at first, but I’m assuming I’ll just get used to it,” she said. “You just think of why they’re doing it and it’s not such a big deal.”

MnDOT said the work will take place every day of the week except Sunday. Gutknecht added it will continue for however long the process takes.

“I would anticipate it’s probably going to be fairly steady,” Gutknecht said about the consistency of the noise, once pile driving begins.

Jackie Ayre-Entsminger, project manager for Seven Corners Apartments, which overlooks the bridge site from the West Bank, said she hasn’t heard residents complain about the noise coming from the site as of yet.

“So far they haven’t said much,” Ayre-Entsminger said. “But I think everyone around here is used to (the fact that) there’s going to be some changes.”

Ayre-Entsminger said as the manager of the Seven Corners buildings, she is “concerned about the eventual noise level,” and is in constant contact with MnDOT.

“Once a week I talk to them. I have to protect this place,” she said.

Ayre-Entsminger said MnDOT has contracted with local consulting and testing firm Braun Intertec, which will monitor vibration levels at the apartments weekly during the construction process.

Representatives from MnDOT will make themselves available to residents of Seven Corners Apartments for questions and comments later this week at the apartment’s board meeting, Ayre-Entsminger said.

Gutknecht said he couldn’t promise MnDOT and the construction company it has hired would be able to adjust the time of day that the work takes place, should that become a problem for area residents, but he said such a conflict would be dealt with when and if the need arises.

“Let’s just wait and see,” he said.