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June 11, 2014

Not-so-silent nights: Goucher work causing big noise in the wee hours

— The still of the night has not been so restful lately for residents attempting to sleep in their homes along Goucher Street in Westmont.

PennDOT’s $3.9 million safety improvement project that started in March is causing sleepless nights for some.

“I know this work has to be done,” said Elaine Lobb of the 1600 block of Goucher.

“They have these bright lights. It’s coming in everyone’s bedrooms and you can’t sleep because of the jackhammers.”

Lobb said things have gotten so bad that she and her neighbors have started hanging trash bags to cover bedroom windows facing Goucher Street and putting plugs in children’s ears.

The 1.1-mile project involves resurfacing, signal upgrades, turning lanes, sight distance improvements, new curbs, sidewalk improvements and drainage work in Westmont and Lower and Upper Yoder townships.

The area is heavily congested with plenty of businesses and residential areas, said PennDOT’s Brad Brumbaugh.

Gulisek Construction LLC of Mount Lebanon is the contractor for the project, which is slated for an October completion.

Everything is being done to minimize the inconvenience, but the night work was written into the contract to minimize traffic delays during the busiest times of the day, Brumbaugh said.

Residents were told at public meetings that night construction would be done in the business districts in an effort to minimize impact on the customer base, Lobb said.

Work in the residential areas of the project was to be done during daylight hours.

Brumbaugh said most of the work now being done  is during the day, but there are exceptions.

“We’re limiting (daylight) construction to avoid having Goucher shut down during peak traffic times of 6 to 8 a.m. and 4 to 8 p.m.,” Brumbaugh said.

Crews are focusing on installing cross pipes, something they can’t accomplish in the daylight hours when they can stop traffic, he said.

“They have to do it at night,” he said.

Adding to the problem are those areas that are business on one side of the street and residential on the other, Brumbaugh said.

The night work has prompted some residents to contact Westmont Borough officials inquiring about a noise ordinance.

Officials at the municipal building said Tuesday the borough does not have a noise ordinance, prompting Lobb to question what law is used when police attempt to stem late night noise.

“If a dog barks or you play music too loud, you’ve got a cop at your door,’ she said.

Noise regulations were reviewed when the contract was developed, said PennDOT’s Lance Eckenrode.

“We coordinate with the municipality if they have a noise ordinance, and Westmont Borough does not have a noise ordinance,” he said.

The project is being completed in six phases and it is currently in the third phase.

“We’re a third of the way along,” Eckenrode said.

Meanwhile, Brumbaugh said PennDOT and the contractor will strive to minimize the inconvenience and frustration the residents are experiencing.

“We’re trying to do our best to balance it and keep the inconvenience to a minimum,” Brumbaugh said, “There’s no right or wrong answer.”

Kathy Mellott covers transportation issues for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/ kathymellotttd.

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