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The Aurora Bridge Rivet Buster: “Can’t Get Any Sleep Loud”

By Athima Chansanchai · August 1st, 2010 · 32 Comments

Even Nyquil won’t help you get your Zzzz’s if you live near the Aurora Bridge and you’ve heard it. By “it,” we mean that “loud as a monster woodpecker banging on a metal tree” sound that might have interrupted a few good nights’ rest.

Aurora Bridge illo

It’s the latest development in the Aurora Bridge Fence Project (the anti-suicide barrier) from WSDOT. We’ll let them tell it:

A couple of weeks ago our contractor began using a tool called the Rivet Buster to remove rivets and bolts on the historic bridge. In many ways the Rivet Buster was a great tool. It was fast, efficient, safe and environmentally sound. But it was really loud. Can’t get any sleep loud.  So loud that some of your neighbors got up in the middle of the night to write us or call our 24-hour noise hotline (206-440-4099). And we listened.

As of this posting the Rivet Buster is on hiatus while we look into quieter ways to remove the rivets and bolts that meet our safety and environmental standards, and keep us on schedule. If those don’t pan out, the Rivet Buster will be on a 10 p.m. curfew.

Counter-intuitively, WSDOT says the work can’t be done during the day.

It comes down to safety and traffic. Workers need to close two lanes of the bridge to create a safe work zone. When two out of three lanes are closed at night, traffic can scoot by without many slowdowns. But if we closed two out of three lanes during the day, that could cause some lengthy backups on Aurora Avenue and send the spillover traffic over to Fremont and Dexter avenues.

It’s a delicate balancing act where one person’s cost is another person’s benefit. The bus rider that gets on the 358 at N. 46 St. wants to get to work on time. The person living under the bridge wants a good night’s sleep. The taxpayer wants the project to stay on budget. And the construction worker wants to come home safe. And yes, we really do think about how our decisions affect each of them.

They expect to have the work done by the end of this year or early 2011.




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