Thursday, March 31, 2016

Nighttime construction noise keeping downtown residents up in Bethesda

Downtown Bethesda's "nighttime economy" may be on the ropes, but the nighttime noise business is booming. Jackhammering and other things that go bump in the night are keeping up residents in the vicinity of the 8100 block of Wisconsin Avenue. A contractor held a nighttime noise waiver that was due to expire by the end of February there, which I've been informed was related to utility work for the new TD Bank under construction at 8101 Wisconsin.

However, I was told by Steve Martin of the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection that the Maryland State Highway Administration can issue its own lane-closure permit for nighttime work to a utility, like Pepco or WSSC. The DEP has no authority to override the SHA, Martin said. Given that I am hearing from multiple residents who were not aware this was going to happen, it suggests that appropriate notification of nearby property owners and apartment management offices by the contractor did not occur in this case.

You'll notice a dark strip in the far-right lane of northbound Wisconsin directly in front of the bank in several of these photos. I'm also still not seeing a sidewalk closure announcement with dates prominently posted, which is now required under a recent County law. I am aware that a 311 report was filed on this and at least one other project a few weeks ago.







26 comments:

Anonymous said...

There is no excuse for these disruptions. A lot of people's domestics live in apartments in that area, and if they cannot sleep, the quality of their work is going to suffer.

Wrol said...

These followup are a great improvement!!

Anonymous said...

I am so thankful you looked into this. I live within 1,000 feet of the construction site and for the past month there has been off/on construction at night. Normally, I do not mind this as I understand they can only do so much during the day without having to close a lane on Wisconsin Ave. Last month or so there has been some nighttime noise mainly heavy construction vehicle noise and general construction sounds like hammers and such.

However, the past week they have been doing jack hammering well into 11:00 PM each night. It makes falling asleep so difficult. Just early this morning (not sure time - maybe 5am?) there was a loud bang like a dump truck lid slamming shut. I have no idea if it was part of the construction site but my guess it is.

Andrea Li said...

Any response from the county on the lack of posted sidewalk closure notices and info?

Anonymous said...

TD Bank is a bad neighbor and not a friend to Bethesda. Did you reach out to TD for comment. They ought to be put on the defensive and called to answer why they are such fuck ups.

Anonymous said...

Don't buy million dollar condos in a construction zone if you don't want noise. What do people expect to hear when there's a new building (mostly residences) going up on every corner? Don't complain just move somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

Having a bank there sucks, but it's a slight improvement over that tiny, crappy old gas station, and we got a nice new sidewalk and undergrounded utilities, too.

Anonymous said...

How come Dyer is "good cop" to the TD Bank on Old Georgetown, but "bad cop" to the one on Wisconsin, this week?

Robert Dyer said...

8:17: The noise issue is at the Wisconsin one, that's why.

Robert said...

Did they bury the power lines?

Anonymous said...

Interesting how quickly the county moved against small businesses having signs on sidewalks compared to how slow they've responded thus far to TD Bank, JBG, etc. closing entire sidewalks for weeks/months.

Anonymous said...

I filed the complaint about the sidewalk signs a few weeks ago. I just checked the status, and DPS reports "No violation found":

SR Number 200050388 Inspected By Adam Curtin
SR Date 03/17/2016 Resolution Date 03/17/2016
SR Code Row Violations Resolution Code No Violation Found
Site Address 8101 Wisconsin AVE
Bethesda, MD 20814-3623 Lot/Block 28/1
Subdivision West Chevy Chase Heights

So my question is -- is it not the case that they need to have a notice for a sidewalk closure? Can anyone cite the relevant law? I can certainly follow up with the inspector.

Robert said...

Not sure the county really moved all that quickly against small businesses having signs on sidewalks. It's been an issue for years and this was really the first I heard the county do anything about it.

That being said I don't really notice any difference in the number of signs since then.

Anonymous said...

11:18 AM The county slapped violation stickers on small business signs.

Nothing done yet about sidewalk closures by big banks and developers however.

The law states that signs need to disclose details about sidewalk closures, such as length of closure.

Anonymous said...

It was at 4am...

"...However, the past week they have been doing jack hammering well into 11:00 PM each night. It makes falling asleep so difficult. Just early this morning (not sure time - maybe 5am?) there was a loud bang like a dump truck lid slamming shut. I have no idea if it was part of the construction site but my guess it is."

Robert said...

I thought the small business signs all got a warning notice and info for a public meeting to help explain the rules? Did they go through and actually ticket after that?

Anonymous said...

@1:17 They got a warning from BUP (Bethesda Urban Partnership), not MCDPS (Permitting) and I think it was more as a courtesy, as BUP doesn't have enforcement authority.

Anonymous said...

I'm skeptical as to whether they've actually been doing utility work the entire time. This week, they were jack hammering, etc. at 3am on the construction site and laying down pavement for their parking lot / driveway. The SHA should investigate as to whether or not the issued permits (if any!) are being properly utilized by this contractor.

Anonymous said...

So it sounds like BUP did a good thing. Warning and education as opposed to going straight to fines.

Robert Dyer said...

It's significant if you say they are doing their work on the actual property, rather than in the street. Noise waivers are typically issued for night work because they involve lane closures that aren't feasible during rush hours and business hours. This sounds like a different situation, and you could file a noise complaint:

http://www2.montgomerycountymd.gov/DEPOnlineForms/NoiseComplaint.aspx


Regarding sidewalk closures, yes, they are required to post a sign with the closure dates under the new law.

Anonymous said...

For crying out loud people, you whine about not having the amenities of urban life, and yet you want the idyllic nature of the country. You can't have both. City life is a bustling, and noisy arena, love it or leave it, your not in Green Acres anymore.

Anonymous said...

@7:57 AM - Make like a tree....why can't they jackhammer during the day? Even if they need street access can't they do this during non-rush hours?

Anonymous said...

@9:16 You have a good point. One lane of Old Georgetown at Wisconsin has been closed for many months due to construction of that building next to Tyber Bierhaus. That's a major road, and it takes away one of the 2 thru lanes. If that's OK, why can't they do this one during the day also?

Dyer: Can you cite the sidewalk law please? If I'm going to take this up with MCDPS, I need to have my details in order.

Anonymous said...

Not Dyer, but I already have a county site open.

https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/DOT-Traffic/Resources/Files/TempTrafficControl_Requirements%202014.pdf

Noise too:

http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/dep/community/noise-ordinance.html

Read away.


Anonymous said...

@12:12pm. Thanks. The bit on sidewalks seems somewhat unclear. It looks like signage is only required if the sidewalk closure is > 2 weeks. I wonder how we as the general public are supposed to know this... Do we wait for it to be closed for 2 weeks straight, then report it?

Anonymous said...

That's beuracracy and government and Ill-thought out processes for you. Private companies are like this too all the time.