Can Neighbors Sleep at Night During Casey Work? Builders Say Yes


Richard Heath


Just how loud will it be for neighbors as the state demolishes the Casey Overpass and replaces it with a network of surface roads? The state explained the project’s noise limits during a public meeting Monday night.

The limits set by MassDOT range from 75 to 90 decibels. Alex Kasprak of MassDOT explained there are two kinds of limits — one for ongoing noises like compressors and one for “impact” sounds like jackhammers. During what the DOT says will be limited nighttime work, the limits range from 62 to 80 decibels.

The limits, explained more fully below, can seem dry and technical. Forest Hills resident Rosalba Solís but them in human perspective during the question and answer period of the meeting.

“I live by the bridge,” said the Hernández School teacher. “I cannot sleep with 60 decibels at night…your kids will have a very grumpy teacher. If you think I can spend three years of sleeping with 60 decibels, [you’re] out of your mind.”

In answer, Engineer Chris Evasius said the project will have only limited work during most people’s sleeping hours.

“This is not a night job,” Evasius said. “There won’t be three hours of hoe ramming at night.”

Night work would be limited mostly to sections like Washington Street, where traffic considerations make daytime work untenable, planners said.

The DOT promises a two-week warning before night work is done, said Jim Kersten, the new spokesperson for the project. To get on the project’s email alert list, go to this link. To report a violation, the project’s hotline is 617-571-7878.

Evasius said there won’t be any blasting on the project, which is expected to take more than two years. He did say some noisy night work might be required if there is an emergency.

Noise limits vary by time of day. These figures vary slightly depending on which side of the project you live on. Below are the highest limits, in decibels, in each category:

Daytime: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Ongoing: 75

Impact: 90

Evening: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Ongoing: 74

Impact: 85

Night: 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Ongoing: 69

Impact: 80

To put those in context, here’s a chart of decibel levels, as provided by MassDOT:

Space shuttle launch 160
Thunderclap 120
Construction equipment 100
Heavy diesel truck at 25 feet; power mower 90
Normal conversation at home 50
Breathing 10

The session, held at English High School, was the second construction information meeting. Fewer people turned out than the last such meeting in January. However, a similar percentage of attendees held up signs opposing the plan. Opponents would like to see a bridge rebuilt instead.

See all our Casey Overpass/Casey Arborway coverage here.

  • rb

    Thanks for covering this! I was there but this is great for folks who weren’t.

  • Richard Heath

    The rhetoric got ridiculous as usual at the Casey Arborway hearing last night.
    But two comments stand out as being inflammatory..
    Mr John Spears who describes himself as an architect took issue with the assertions by the Dept of Transportation that silica dust -present in concrete- would not pose a health hazard. ” This dust can kill you; Its a horizontal World Trade Center.”
    John Spears needs to be ashamed of himself to use that disgraceful analogy.
    Then we have a Mr HM Owen who appears out of thin air to bellow at officials “HOW DARE YOU!! You are trying to poison out children. {You are} dropping toxins into the atmosphere of Jamaica Plain. We will resist you We will stop you.! ”
    This mindless grandstanding – and Spears was the worst- are the only toxins I can smell in the atmosphere of Forest Hills.

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  • Clay Harper

    A clarification on something I thought I caught from the Noise Baseline and Limits discussion: these decibel levels are established on the edges of the neighborhoods closest to the project. That is, homes further away or behind trees or windows should experience lower decibels than those limts. My notes say that DOT also spoke of separate acceptable (to them) baselines for the differing types of equipment likely to be used.

    The most notable data to come from this meeting, however, was the responsive news that MassDOT had taken 20 core samples at 10 different locations around the site and sent them to two different independent labs to look for asbestos. None was found.

    • JamaicaPlainNews

      Yes, that’s how I understood it, too. Thanks for the addition, Clay!

  • Anonymous

    Just curious — am I the only adult resident of JP juvenile enough to snicker at Mr. Evasias’s stated reason why it won’t be too loud at night?

    • JamaicaPlainNews

      I’m truly getting old. I didn’t even catch that until I reread the quote after your comment!

  • mjb918

    Not to be flip about it, but it sounds like MassDOT might consider passing out disposable ear plugs at the next update meeting. That might make for a tiny good-will gesture where no other viable solution is forthcoming or possible. The work has to be done. As far as toxins, yes, silica dust will be an issue, but that can be largely mitigated. As far as the big A is concerned, I’m not sure why that was even a question/ comment. It was used in WTC as a fire retardant sprayed on the interior superstructure. Look at the Casey. Bare, rusting iron. A non-issue.

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