Construction site is a noisy neighbor

by Erin Ghere

As construction veils the face of the University, members of the community go about their lives around it — even those who live and work within feet of noisy sites.
Comstock Hall residents, in close proximity to the demolition of the East River Road Ramp, feel the effects of progress every day. Demolition of the ramp began in mid-November and is scheduled to be completed by Feb. 15.
“It impacts folks differently,” said Mary Ann Ryan, director of Housing and Residential Life.
Ryan, whose office stands six feet from the gaping hole where the ramp used to be, said the noise from the construction has been intermittent and therefore tolerable.
“It is much better than we anticipated,” said Connie Thompson, assistant director of Housing and Residential Life. “The beeping of the trucks backing up is the most irritating.”
And few students complain, according to Melanie McQuatters, director of Comstock Hall.
“We’ve been very lucky,” she said. “There have been no serious complaints.”
The few complaints reported to her office regarded an occasion when the demolition crew began working before 8 a.m.
But it’s not only people’s comfort that concerns the crews; the structure of Comstock Hall — its foundation a matter of feet from the precipitous cavity — is being carefully monitored.
Seismographs have been placed throughout the building to take readings of vibrations or movements. Engineers check them periodically to make sure all recordings are within acceptable range.
Students living in the building were also asked to report any cracks or other signs of change in the building to McQuatters’ office.
“There have been a few hairline cracks found,” Thompson said.
But engineers determined that any rumblings caused by the demolition fell within acceptable ranges; it is yet unclear whether the cracks were already in the building, she said.
The biggest concern of the housing office, which is accessible only by going around the side of Comstock closest to the construction, has been making sure students know the office is still open, Ryan said.
“What we are most concerned about is that our office is accessible to students and that they feel welcome here,” she said.
The construction is slowly moving away from the immediate area of the building, Thompson said.
“It is getting less noisy and having less of an effect as they move east,” Thompson said.
The portion of the ramp closest to the residence hall was torn down last week and the demolition is now moving toward the area behind Coffman Union.
“We do welcome the progress,” Ryan said.