GovernmentThe Examiner

Saw Mill Parkway Work Enters Second Half Bringing Noise, Disruption

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The area just outside Booth Street resident Dina DelPriore’s rear property line where the line of trees was clear-cut by the Department of Transportation contractor recently. The DOT has begun piledriving to raise a 1.3-mile section of the Saw Mill Parkway that has been prone to flooding. Martin Wilbur photo

A little more than a week ago, Booth Street homeowner Dina DelPriore started to feel her house shake. It certainly wasn’t an earthquake, but rather the heavy machinery used by the state Department of Transportation’s (DOT) contractor for the Saw Mill River Parkway road-raising project.

The complaints from Mount Pleasant and Pleasantville residents on both sides of the parkway have been frequent and persistent since the start of the work a little over a year ago.

But on Dec. 13, the DOT began the second half of the project – installation of sheet pile, bridge demolition and piledriving to raise the roadway by as much as eight feet on the northbound side of the parkway. Earlier this year they raised the road on the southbound side.

However, DelPriore, who lives with her family in the last house at the end of Booth Street, said that the loss of virtually all of her screening not only leaves her a totally exposed view of the parkway, but sometimes deafening noise from routine traffic and greater wind. Her property is about 30 feet to the closest work being performed.

“What they are doing is just unbelievable, said DelPriore of the work along the 1.3-mile stretch from south of Marble Avenue northward to near Bedford Road. “There are so many people complaining and now they did the sheet piling, and like I said, it’s an eyesore. Now they’re going to start piledriving.”

While the long-anticipated project to solve the frequent flooding and road closures is critical, certain steps that should have been taken were never addressed before work started or during the project, residents and elected officials have charged.

Residents have complained that the DOT has refused to have a community meeting with them, either in person or via Zoom, a highly unusual move for a $60 million project, said Pollywiggle Lane resident Gibson Craig. Craig, who lives on the opposite side of the parkway from DelPriore, endured months of piledriving last winter and spring and has also been an outspoken critic of DOT’s handling of the project.

“With this project, there was not one single meeting with the town and the community, and I know (Mount Pleasant Supervisor) Carl Fulgenzi and a bunch of people on the board have been writing letters on our behalf to get the DOT to show up at the Town Hall and answer some questions and hear some concerns,” said Craig, an engineer who has extensive experience in the construction industry.

Homeowners and Fulgenzi have pressed for the installation of sound barriers to block roadway noised that now will be closer to street level causing greater disturbance. DelPriore said on the northbound side of the parkway, the road may be raised as much as eight feet.

Fulgenzi said to get the DOT to respond to their concerns has been largely futile. When residents were upset about night construction that often went past midnight, it was.

But the agency’s refusal to even consider sound barriers has been a difficult sticking point for residents and the town.

“They have denied the fact that a sound barrier is needed,” Fulgenzi said. “We’ve all been over there, looking where the road is, where it’s going to be and stuff like that. It’s obvious to us that the raising of the road as far as it’s coming up, you’re basically closer to the line of traffic, and we believe a sound barrier is warranted in that area.”

But a spokesperson for the DOT said the site does not meet the standard for a barrier.

“NYSDOT has reviewed the requests for sound barriers along the parkway and determined that the project does not meet Federal Highway Administration requirements for additional sound mitigation measures,” said Heather Pillsworth, a DOT public information officer.

Craig said that he had many other concerns over the past year, such as what substances the piles were treated with since there are nearby wells. Also, Halmar International, the Nanuet-based construction company doing the work, was cited by the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for discharging sediment and water into a stream.

Despite the problems, Craig said there is still time to make the situation better for nearby residents.

“They have the ability to simply come to our town, hear a bunch of our concerns and probably address about half of them for less than $100,000, and this is a $60 million project,” he said.

Curtailing the work hours to comply with residents’ wishes to not be disturbed at night has elongated the project, and the DOT now hopes to complete the work by next fall.

That promises to be a long nine to 12 months for DelPriore.

 “It’s not only sound, it’s air pollution, it’s wind pollution, it’s noise pollution, it’s everything,” she said.

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