W.T.C. noise goes up again with train hub excavation


By Julie Shapiro

After some months of relative quiet, the racket at the World Trade Center site is ramping up again, residents near the site say.

“The noise is getting worse and worse,” said Isabelle Moutaud, who lives a couple blocks north of the site at W. Broadway and Park Pl. “At first, it was every once and a while late at night. But for past two weeks, it’s been nonstop.”

The loud pounding noise Moutaud and others are hearing is coming from the east side of the W.T.C. site, where the new PATH train hub will rise. The Port Authority is excavating into bedrock there to eventually build the foundation of the transit hub. The excavation will also make way for a portion of the belowground vehicle security center.

To cut into the bedrock, the Port uses massive jackhammers called hoe rams, and that causes “the most invasive noise,” said John Kelly, a Port spokesperson. To mitigate that noise and speed the work, the Port uses blasting explosives during the day, Kelly said in an e-mail to Downtown Express.

“It’s unbearable,” said Biba Clark, who lives in Barclay Tower. She has made dozens of 311 calls in the past two years because of the noise, and she said the work got louder and later within the past couple weeks. Clark knows of people who have left her building to escape the constant humming, pounding and beeping, and she said she may not stay much longer either.

“I don’t want to move,” she said, “but it’s gotten to the point where you get a headache from the minute you walk into your home to the minute you leave.”

Online reviews of Barclay Tower show that Clark is not alone — many posters have complained about the W.T.C. noise in the building over the past two years.

Moutaud also said she was considering leaving the neighborhood unless the Port quieted down earlier at night and gave residents a break on at least one weekend morning.

“It’s too constant,” said Moutaud, who added that she gets no more than four to six hours of sleep per night. “It’s maddening.”

Kelly, with the Port Authority, said the Port constantly monitors the sounds emanating from the site. The noise does not exceed the city’s building code, Kelly said.

When work at the Trade Center site first went round-the-clock about two years ago, as the Port Authority rushed to meet deadlines, the Port agreed to pay for soundproof windows at several buildings within 100 feet of the site. The residents on Barclay and Park Place did not qualify because they lived too far away.

Pat Moore, who lives at 125 Cedar St. adjacent to the W.T.C. site and is the self-described “queen of noise,” fought hard for the windows and said they have made a difference in her building. However, the Port only paid for windows overlooking the site, and Moore said the noise still finds its way in her other windows.

Two years ago, the loud work was much closer to Moore as the Port excavated the Tower 4 footprint in the southeast corner of the site. The transit hub excavation is also on the east side of the site but is a little farther north, closer to the Barclay and Park Pl. residents.

Still, Moore, too, has noticed more construction late at night recently — but she said she’s gotten so accustomed to the constant din that she has stopped paying attention.

“At some point, you tune it out,” she said.