City cuts harbor work over noise

Around-the-clock work halted in Douglas

Posted: Friday, December 07, 2001

The city has cut early morning work hours at the Douglas Harbor expansion project because of noise complaints, but the contractor hopes to be allowed to work around the clock.

The city granted contractor BOSS Construction a permit last week to operate heavy equipment 24 hours a day, allowing the company to put three shifts of people to work. The project is behind schedule, which could delay the second phase of dredging Steamship Wharf downtown and expanding Savikko Road in Douglas, according to city officials.

After city building official Chris Roust received three complaints about construction noise from neighbors on Wednesday, he revised the heavy construction permit, allowing noisy activity between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. only. That schedule is outlined in the city's original project approval, he said.

"It was general construction noise and backup alarms still operating," Roust said. "The people who complained didn't have a problem with the (new) times."

Under the city's noise ordinance, a contractor needs a permit to operate heavy construction equipment before 7 a.m. or after 10 p.m. on weekdays or before 9 a.m. or after 10 p.m. on weekends.

BOSS Construction project manager Tim Hart said workers are dredging from barges and have been taking advantage of low tides. The company got complaints after it left a backup alarm connected and didn't notify neighbors of the schedule change, he said.

"We're hoping to come up with a solution that will allow people to let us work the balance of the project around the clock," Hart said. "If we work off the barges, it's a quieter operation than the other night. We have to convince some of the local people."

Hart said the project was delayed because the method workers were using to dredge wasn't as productive as they would have liked. While things were working well in the beginning, they have since moved to a more conventional method of dredging, he said.

BOSS Construction is from Bellingham, Wash., and Hart said most of the workers on the Douglas project are from Alaska. The city and local contractors have been supportive, he said. Dredging is 50 percent complete, he said.

"We're trying really hard to meet our schedule," he said.

Jacque Farnsworth, who lives in the Dockside condos next to the work, said she can hear the noise but isn't bothered by it.

"They should put on shifts around the clock if they're behind," she said.

Neighbor Sandy Plotnick said she's not complaining, either.

"I really don't notice it that much except for the bright lights. It's really not that much of a distraction to me," she said.

Joanna Markell can be reached at

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