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Quiet on Fore River Bridge Noise Plan Rankles Residents

Representatives from contractor White-Skanska and the DOT answered questions Tuesday night in Weymouth about the bridge construction.

Noise stemming from the initial construction phase of the new Fore River Bridge is already bothering some nearby residents, whose frustrations were exacerbated Tuesday night when state officials and contractors did not produce copies of a noise plan approved by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

The plan was described in part by a representative for White-Skanska, the joint venture selected to design and build the new vertical lift bridge, but the lack of complete transparency bothered several residents attending a public forum at the Whipple Senior Center.

"It interrupts sleep, it interrupts the ability to concentrate at work, it interrupts family life," Peter Maggi, a North Weymouth resident, said of the construction noise. "You need to do your job right from day one."

Mayor Susan Kay, disappointed by the failure of the parties involved to reach a memorandum of understanding on construction practices, said that the town is reviewing noise and dust plans created by White-Skanska and approved by MassDOT.

"We have concerns and we have submitted those," Kay said. "Hopefully we can do some mitigation on that end."

Regular construction hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., though depending on the work being done they may be extended temporarily to 24 hours, said Jack Pecora, project manager for J.F. White Contracting.

"It's our intention to work with both the communities of Quincy and Weymouth," he said. "We understand we are disrupting your lives."

Pecora added that based on his memory of the noise plan, daytime decibel limits were 90, evening somewhere around 80 and nighttime down to 60 or 70. He said he did not have the plan loaded on his laptop.

MassDOT officials said that the plan should be a public document and they would look into making it available.

"That's a good question," said MassDOT spokesman Donald Dailey when asked why the document or a summary was not brought to the meeting. Dailey said that was up to White-Skanska and he would look into it.

Construction began next to the temporary bridge late last year and is expected to be complete by 2016.

The design is 75 percent done and will be finished by mid-April. Recent changes to the design – as it went from 25 percent as bidded to 75 percent – included reducing the height of the two towers by 22 feet. The length of the span, size of foundations and lighting remain the same.

Reduced traffic patterns, which affect commuters from Hingham to Braintree and beyond, would be in effect during a four-month period in 2015, likely from May to August, Pecora said.

Most of the construction period will not affect traffic at all, Pecora added, but when the lanes crossing the new bridge are being set, traffic will have to be reduced to one lane in each direction.

The only realistic detour would be through Weymouth Landing and into East Braintree, Michael Lang of the East Braintree Civic Association said. Lang argued that the traffic study done by the contractor under-estimated how many vehicles would go through the area and the result would be gridlock.

Weymouth resident Martin Downey, a retired pipe fitter, suggested that neighbors put the project in perspective.

The area has been home to industrial facilities for decades and mitigation measures are far superior today, he said, adding that if residents can work with MassDOT and the construction team they will see better results in the end.

"We listened to them build ships for World War II for crying out loud," Downey said.

Those interested can follow the project's progress at www.massdotprojectsforeriverbridge.info.

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