'It's never-ending': Fall River residents frustrated by around-the-clock construction
Ernie Stacey says he's so exhausted in the morning that he doesn't feel safe driving from his home on Fall River Road to his job at Dalhousie University.
"It's never-ending," he said of the late-night noise. "It's trucks and your loaders and stuff like that going down the road."
For the past two nights, construction crews working for Halifax Water have been digging through thick bedrock along the road, making room for a 16-inch waterline that will eventually deliver water to 180 homes in Fall River, N.S.
"I'm not objecting to having Halifax Water out here," said Stacey. "I'm objecting to them waking me up in the middle of the night and running heavy machinery. Because you can't sleep."
Both he and his wife are struggling to get even two or three hours of sleep each night, Stacey said.
"And then there's an excavator digging up rocks and scraping the rocks. You know, it's not fit for people to sleep like that."
Just up the road, Bonnie Bishop is having the same problem.
"Every couple of hours, I just wake up," she said. "Just dump trucks going up and down the road — and then a huge loud bang."
Not everyone complaining
But Danielle Clarke, whose house is right next to the construction, is less disturbed by the noise.
She said it's a temporary inconvenience for a long-sought improvement for neighbourhood residents.
"We do hear it, but it's not that loud. It's not constant," she said.
"We have a seven-month old baby. Our house is probably the closest to the work."
She said the workers are polite and accommodating, especially when the couple has to get in and out of the driveway.
Trying to beat the freeze
Halifax Water is in the midst of an $8.6-millon project to hook up the 180 homes, as well as three schools and the Fall River recreational centre.
Right now, construction crews are in a race with the approaching winter weather. The plan is to work around the clock until the ground is too frozen to dig.
Local city councillor Steve Streatch said he's been getting a number of calls from residents wondering why the work doesn't stop at night. He said he's brought it up with staff.
"What they've told me is that they're going to work until freeze up — into December."
As for the around-the-clock noise, Streatch said Halifax Water and its contractors have an exemption, meaning they're free to work overnight until the job is done. The only time work stops is during the morning rush hour, from 7 to 9 a.m., and again in the afternoon, from 4 to 6 p.m.
When time is money
Work to install the 4.5 kilometres of pipe started in Fall River in late September. The federal and provincial governments are contributing $5.9 million, with the remaining $2.6 million being covered by the residents of Fall River Road.
Each of the 180 homeowners is expected to shell out $11,500 to get hooked up to the new water system.
The project's original deadline of March 2018 was pushed back to October 2018 in order to qualify for the federal funding, Streatch said.
"They say in order to complete this on time — we don't want to risk that federal funding — that they've got to run around the clock," Streatch said.
And ultimately, he said, the quicker the pipe gets laid into the ground, the cheaper it will be for everyone. "I'm told that by running a 24-hour shift, that will help bring the cost down."
Streatch said the reason it's taking so long to dig is the same reason there is so little water in Fall River: Too much bedrock.
But Ernie Stacey doesn't believe the noise is worth it.
"I'm sure there's a lot of work to be done, but there's a time and a place," he said. "We pay our taxes … and we have a right to sleep at night in a comfy bed, just like they do, the ones who figure out when to plan these projects."