RHA: Construction noise persists

The University is failing to stop or regulate excessive construction noise during early morning hours, a majority of respondents reported in an informal Residence Hall Association survey.

Seventy-nine percent of students living close to the future location of the Science and Engineering Hall and 60 percent living near the future Law Learning Center reported loud weekday construction work before 8 a.m., the survey found.

“Residents don’t feel any improvements and are disappointed with the response,” Residence Hall Association president Matt Galewski said. “It feels as if the University doesn’t want to believe the issue of construction is as significant as it really is.”

The University pledged to limit “exceptionally loud construction” before 8 a.m. during the week and 9 a.m. Saturdays, besting city policies that permit all construction to start at 7 a.m.

The association has lobbied the Division of Operations to take action on students’ construction complaints, but Galewski said his group was met with a lack of urgency from administrators.

“It’s their word against the residents,” Galewski said, frustrated that the University has pushed aside the group’s efforts to petitition administrators.

The University took steps to monitor the noise in September when Division of Operations employees observed sound levels at the construction site from 7 to 8 a.m. Monday through Friday. University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard said during the observations that staff “noticed a marked improvement in the reduction of exceptionally loud noises.”

She said it is difficult to measure the extent of the construction noises, but encouraged students to contact Campaign GW, a student-run lobbying effort.

The banned construction activities include “surface scraping and asphalt/concrete demolition; filling of dump trucks/dumpsters with large rubble or scrap metal; jack hammering; driving of piles; repeated/continuous honking/idling in vicinity of residence halls and loud/boisterous outdoor conversations within close proximity to residence halls,” Sherrard said in an e-mail.

“Reducing sound is not a common practice for a construction site, and GW has taken a unique step in regard to limiting noise in the 7 to 8 a.m. range,” Sherrard said. She added that, while many students reported construction noises in the morning, “It is important to note that construction outside of these specific activities may occur beginning at 7 a.m.”

Galewski said the monitoring hasn’t stopped loud noises and he is still fielding dozens of complaints about noise and pest problems from students living in the seven affected residence halls.

In the past two weeks, more than 500 students have signed the Residence Hall Association’s petition urging the University “to uphold its commitment” to limit the morning hours of exceptionally noisy construction. Galewski said their effort is to demonstrate the far-reaching scope of student concerns so the University will raise the issue with the construction company.

“It wakes me up everyday at 7 a.m. It’s so annoying,” freshman and Potomac resident Emily Flam said. “It vibrates our room.”

More than 350 students living in seven residential halls within two blocks of construction sites were questioned for the survey.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.