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Brooklyn Bridge Jackhammers Are Too Loud, City Admits

By Julie Shapiro

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

LOWER MANHATTAN — The city is breaking its own noise code by jackhammering late at night on the Brooklyn Bridge, officials admitted to angry residents this week.

The Department of Transportation — which is managing the four-year, $508 million overhaul of the landmark bridge — has received violations for the noisy work and is looking for a solution, but in the meantime, the loud construction will continue, officials said.

"We know it's a problem," Joannene Kidder, the DOT's executive director of community affairs, told residents at a meeting Tuesday night. "We are exceeding [city] noise thresholds. We're not where we want to be."

Kidder said the city unexpectedly uncovered old trolley tracks beneath the bridge's existing roadway and has to blast them out before putting the new concrete surface in place.

Workers are using small jackhammers with rubber mufflers and have erected sound-dampening fences, but the noise still regularly exceeds city codes by up to 10 decibels, Kidder said.

While the city will continue looking for solutions, the work must move forward, Kidder said. The jackhammering on the Manhattan side of the bridge will last through the end of the year, Kidder said.

Residents at the Community Board 1 meeting told Kidder it was unacceptable for the noise to continue.

"No one can sleep," said John Fratta, chairman of CB1's Seaport/Civic Center Committee. "It's really unfair to the community…. People are very angry. They're tired of it."

Fratta, who spoke on behalf of his neighbors at Southbridge Towers, said the jackhammers start up at 1:30 a.m. almost every night and run until 4:30 a.m. Shouts of workers and the high-pitched beeping of trucks add to the noise, he and others said.

In response to the concerns, the community board will make an official request that the city do the jackhammering during the day rather than at night.

Luis Sanchez, the DOT's lower Manhattan borough commissioner, said he, too, would like to move the noisy work during the day, but it may be too disruptive of the traffic flow on the bridge.

"It's a balancing act in terms of noise [and] traffic," Sanchez said.

The Brooklyn Bridge project also includes a new coat of paint, wider approach ramps and stronger supports and has required frequent nighttime closures. One year after the work started, it is 17 percent complete, the DOT said.

Residents with complaints about the Brooklyn Bridge project can call Sabrina Lau, the community liaison, at 347-647-0876 or email brooklynbridgeoutreach@gmail.com.