Plymouth Residents Fed Up with Turnpike Construction Noise

Township residents say they are being kept up through the night.

A group of residents in northern Plymouth Township are making themselves heard over the sound of construction noise, as the Northeast Extension is expanded just beyond their backyards.

The construction is part of a repair and road-widening project that looks to turn the Northeast Extension into a six-lane roadway, with a scheduled completion date in 2014. However, residents are saying that the noise is carrying on through the night and disrupting their sleep and health.

"Residents are bombarded with heavy equipment noise all night long, even though the area they chose to work on is easily accessible during the day," said Carolyn Nickels, of the 3100 block of Jolly Road. "This is something that affects our quality of life and our safety as we try to live our lives seriously sleep-deprived."

In addition, Nickels said that she lives with her elderly mother, who is suffering from breast cancer and needs abundant rest.

"The only peace she gets is when she's sleeping," Nickels told NBC10.

In an effort to obtain some relief, residents contacted a number of local government officials, including state senator Daylin Leach. In turn, Leach wrote a letter to PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch, requesting that the contractor cease nighttime operations.

"While nobody objects to important turnpike maintenance and improvements, the problem arises from the fact that loud construction is frequently, if not nightly, occurring between… 11 p.m. and 4 a.m.," Leach wrote. "We are simply asking that loud construction stop between the hours of 11 p.m. and sunrise."

Mimi Doyle, public information manager for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC), told Patch that the PTC is working with contractor Walsh Construction to come up with possible solutions. However, the PTC's hands are ultimately tied by the contractual agreements with Walsh, Doyle said.

"We can't force the contractor to do something … until we have taken and documented readings that show the noise levels are above allowable decibel levels in the contract," Doyle said.

Doyle described the decibel levels in the contract as "standard," and says the PTC conducted noise studies in 2007 to get a feel for general levels and to determine the placement of sound barriers. In addition, Doyle says that out of about two hundred residents signed up for weekly updates on the project, only a handful have had any complaints.

Nickels told Patch that she filed a Right-to-Know requests with the PTC to obtain the sound stipulation in the commission's contract with Walsh, but has yet to receive it. A response letter from Lynn Freeman, open records officer for the PTC, said the commission will require 30 extra days past the usual five day response time because the request is under legal review and due to "bona fide staffing limitations."

Regardless of whether or not current decibel levels exceed what is allowed by the contract, Doyle says the PTC is working with Walsh to come up with possible solutions.

"We had a meeting [late last week], and we do feel we are going to be able to come to some agreement," Doyle said, without naming specifics. "We have some ideas about how we may limit some of the issues."

In its most recent update to residents, the PTC said the turnpike is still scheduled for day and night construction near Jolly Road this week. Whether it's any quieter, and whether or not local residents get any more sleep, remains to be seen.

Joan Carson-Sudall October 16, 2012 at 06:32 PM
As the autumn leaves fall softly to the earth, nature's sound barriers come tumbling down. Thusly, the bare boughs and whistling winds resound the cacophony of man's own NOISES. The situation at hand with the ever ampifying noise from the turnpike construction is now only getting worse. Over the past week I have been awaken by a multitude of sounds ranging from the beeping of reversing vehicles to the thud of construction machinery. Having this constant nightly awakening makes for lack of necessary rest during the night. As Senator Leach referenced to the TPC, why must there be such ongoing noise during the hours of 11PM to 6AM??? Really, what is the bottom line? Is the TPC in control of this situation as we were led to believe in all the meeting we attended at the commencement of this endeavor, or is the hired Walsh Construction Company contracted by the TPC dictating the conditions we are forced into accepting. That is certainly NOT what we, the residents of Plymouth Township, were presented and given assurances by the TPC.
Marilyn Dougherty October 17, 2012 at 02:06 AM
The stipulations of the Turnpike ConstructionsAgreements that were made have not been honored. It is a disgrace that residents have to live like they are in the center of a football field with lights shining in the windows along with the booming, banging and beeping of the constructions vehicles. We are continually being given the run around and have had it! We are given pathetic excuses week after week for their broken promises. We know that turnpike and construction crews are responsible for getting a job done, but so are we and how can we get out jobs done wihtout any sleep! It is time to put the citizens of Plymouth and thier needs as a top priority.
Colleen October 17, 2012 at 02:20 AM
Although we are well aware of eminent domain and the right for the Turnpike to take and use property, there are still boundaries and guidelines that need to be followed. We are citizens of a community that have done nothing but try to continually cooperate, but are continually being disrespected. Our "friends" at the Turnpike who sit behind a desk can easily say they will handle the situation or look into it clearly have no idea what is feels like to deal with the noise, lights and distractions of the Turnpike construction. Although the construction is necessary and needed, there MUST be a way to do the construction without keeping up working adults, children attending school and sickly older people. It is absolutely terrible what the residents have to put up with throughout this construction period. These behind the desk Turnpike employees should have to deal with the noise and distraction while they are working. They would be calling and complaining at the noise immediately. If they were truly concerned, they would come see for themselves because the news crews were appalled at what local residents are dealing with throughout the night. There is surely a way to find a solution to continue and complete the construction without having to deal with the banging, brightness and yelling of profanity by the construction workers. We will continue to express our concern until someone takes the time to listen and understand by coming up with a solution, not an excuse.
Joan Catagnus October 17, 2012 at 05:10 PM
The Turnpike made many promises at the meetings with the neighborhood. These promises have been methodically broken with total disregard for area residents. The noise is hellish at night. People can't sleep. My question is why is work being done in the middle of the night that can be done during the day with easy access available?
Craig Nathan October 18, 2012 at 03:21 AM
As a Plymouth resident, I have been following the turnpike construction since the plan was proposed a few years ago. The noise at night is unbearable. It is so disrespectful to the residents of the township. As it has been through the entire process, the turnpike continues to have no concrete answers. It's a simple solution of moving the construction hours to daytime but the turnpike seems to be more concerned with contracting out the job for night time hours than they are with residents and how the noise and lights are effecting our daily lives.


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