PORTSMOUTH — David Gleason’s complaints that the Sakonnet River Bridge work has repeatedly violated the town’s noise ordinance have fallen on deaf ears.
The Town Council member lives on Massasoit Avenue, the southernmost street in Common Fence Point and directly parallel to Rte. 24 and the Sakonnet River Bridge. He and neighbors have been besieged with work-related noise that begins before the allowed 7 a.m. start time, Mr. Gleason said.
“I’ve actually been awake since 4 (a.m.),” he said Wednesday morning, adding that the backup alarms constantly pierce the still of the early morning hours, and the sound of Jersey barriers being moved around is also deafening. “Anyone who can sleep through that backup alarm, God bless them.”
Mr. Gleason complained Wednesday morning to Portsmouth police, who came out to his property with a decibel reader. “What they recorded was a noise level at 65 dB. Anything over 55 dB is in violation (of the town’s noise ordinance),” he said.
But without a municipal court (see page 5 for more), there’s “no teeth” behind the ordinance, Mr. Gleason said.
“That’s basically making the case for the municipal court,” he said.
Mr. Gleason also complained to RIDOT officials in an e-mail sent out Tuesday.
“Residents of Common Fence Point as well as those in Tiverton, I would assume, have had to put up with unbelievably loud noise conditions for the last few years during the Sakonnet River Bridge construction,” stated Mr. Gleason. “Despite my consistent complaints that the construction starts prior to 7 a.m. and the associated noise are clearly in violation of the town of Portsmouth ordinances, Cardi (Construction) continues to start their crews as early as they want with no repercussions.”
Twice in 2012, RIDOT engineer Larry Bailey sent Cardi letters of noise complaints and reminded the company to cease any activities that violate the noise ordinance, but didn’t mention the 7 a.m. start time, Mr. Gleason said.
The council member himself spoke with a supervisor from Cardi on May 21. “He acknowledged that I should just get used to sleeping with earplugs for another month,” he said. “Hey, but they have got to get that bridge done and really the blame now is with RIDOT, who is pushing for completion and could care less about these letters of complaint.”
Plea for noise barrier
Another Common Fence Point resident, Mil Kinsella, also has a problem with the noise level coming from the bridge, due to both the construction work and the traffic.
“They took so much vegetation down that the bridge is almost twice as loud as it was before. I can’t sit on my deck and make a phone call,” said Ms. Kinsella. “We need a sound wall. I’ve seen it in Connecticut and Massachusetts. I don’t see them in Rhode Island.”
She said the noise from the work starts “way too early” and is a constant annoyance. “Why do they back up so much? It’s ‘beep, beep, beep’ constantly,” she said.
The noise is just going to get worse for Common Fence Point residents with the location of the toll gantry on the Portsmouth side, she said.
“There’s going to be more traffic idling and being carried over the water,” she said. “Why not put those tolls in between the rocks in Tiverton, where the fumes can just bounce into the walls and not carried up the river, and the noise won’t be carried up the river? It just seems like a really bad place for them.
“Of course they don’t tell us anything, do they?”
Even when the construction work ends, Mr. Gleason said, there will still be a noise problem near the bridge. He agrees with Ms. Kinsella that there are fewer trees to absorb the sound of traffic, and the sound will bounce off Hummock Rock, which is closer to the new bridge than the old.
Residents in Common Fence Point and the Hummocks “will be ‘hearing’ from this project for years to come,” he said.