Last Thursday night Ronaldo "Nick" Nicholson, VDOT project manager, Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project, told residents assembled at Lyles Crouch Elementary School for a Community Information Meeting that work on the Route 1 Interchange portion of the project was "60 percent complete." Then came the bad news.
"Work will continue during overnight hours due to safety reasons, primarily because of high traffic volumes during the day," he said. That did not please those who live close to the construction site who raised questions about noise when they are trying to sleep.
"We are trying to balance both traffic needs and the needs of the residents. We had to choose between gridlocking Old Town and working at night," Nicholson told the 30-plus residents in attendance.
Adding to the residents' complaints was the fact that they said they were promised that the soundwalls that would shield their properties from both traffic and construction noise were to have been in place prior to major construction. They are not.
Those soundwalls will not go up until spring according to Brook Brookshire, representing Tidewater Skanska Construction at the meeting. The east, or residential, side is to be constructed first, according to Brookshire.
Preliminary work on the soundwalls is now underway. Design issues have been one of the delaying factors, Brookshire confirmed. "One of the challenges has been identifying the exact location of underground utilities when digging for placement of the supports," he said. Those locations are not always identified properly, he said.
IN THE ORIGINAL DESIGNS for the interchange a provision was made for soundwalls, according to Alex Lee, community relations manager, WWB. "However, you don't build soundwalls for construction noise. They are put in place to mitigate sound level from the ultimate use of the road. When they go up is up to the contractor," said Lee.
Areas in front of homes between Green and Jefferson streets on South Patrick Street will be reconfigured to accommodate Route 1 reconstruction including the new soundwalls. That area is within the existing roadway right-of-way.
"There will be six major traffic pattern changes at the Route 1 Interchange over the next year or so," said Chip Fiore, resident engineer, PPC. A major one will be the replacement of the Route 1 Interchange bridge over the Beltway, according to Fiore.
That will be undertaken in two phases. First will be replacement of the northbound lanes. Traffic will be shifted accordingly. The second half of the overpass is slated for completion in mid-2008, according to the Project's timetable.
Completion of this $150 million project is essential to proceed with work on restructuring Telegraph Road and Huntington Avenue interchanges, according to Nicholson. "Telegraph Road is expected to be advertised in 2007 with work commencing in the Fall of 2007," Nicholson said.
"This is a 24-hour project," Nicholson told the residents. "It's not our intent to come out at night and disturb you," Brookshire added.
Several procedures have been established to monitor noise associated with the project.
* An Independent Noise Inspector (INI) will be on site to monitor activities and collect noise data for the night work. There could also be spot checks to make sure the decibel level is within City guidelines for the project.
* A Noise Complaint Hotline now in service can be accessed by dialing 866-576-2280. The on-site INI will answer any calls on this line immediately and investigate any issues, according to the Project.
Residents were informed of the following traffic changes:
* Late Fall 2006: Open temporary ramp from I-95 south to Telegraph Road interchange, requiring an earlier exit off the Beltway near the Route 1 Interchange.
* Early 2007: Traffic will be shifted to the eastern side of the new Route 1 overpass.
* Spring 2007: Shift all I-95 southbound traffic from existing Beltway alignment to the north.
* Summer 2007: Open permanent flyover ramp from northbound Route 1 to I-95 South/Beltway Inner Loop and remove temporary signal.