Highway construction wreaking havoc on Coquitlam woman's life

A Coquitlam woman says construction on the highway behind her home is causing significant damage to her 20-year-old house.

Farida Nanji told CBC News that construction on the Cape Horn Interchange is causing her home to shake, creating loud, creaky floors and leaving cracks in the walls and ceilings.

“It’s so frightening and the house shakes with those big trucks,” Nanji said. “The shaking was so bad the house moves like … you think this is an earthquake.”

Nanji said the construction work usually begins at night around 10 p.m., terrifying her 93-year-old mother and causing many sleepless nights. Nanji is not alone.

“There's been times where things are shaking,” said neighbour Victoria Heng. “My chandelier, my wine glasses, they're literally shaking.” Nanji said her basement tenant was fed up with the noise and recently moved out, leaving her short a thousand dollars a month.

Even Coquitlam's mayor who lives nearby has been woken by the construction, but says the work can only be carried out at night to avoid disrupting traffic.

“We're asking the contractors to work on those impacts,” said Mayor Richard Stewart. “Obviously if someone has cracks in their homes, that's an issue.”

Kiewit Construction sent CBC News a written statement late on Thursday afternoon saying that they "take all claims seriously" but that their preliminary investigation "suggests the damage was unlikely caused by our work in the area."

Transportation Investment Corporation (TI Corp), the Crown corporation managing construction on the Cape Horn Interchange, agreed.

“The claim she's made, it's very, very unlikely that it would've been caused by the work that's taking place near her residence,” said TI Corp spokesman Greg Johnson. “We're not aware of any cases of property damage anywhere on the Port Mann project, all 37 kilometers of it, that has been caused by this type of work."

But, a restoration specialist examined the damage at Nanji's home and wrote in a report: “It does seem very feasible to me from the pile driving, to cause this damage.” Nanji says she forwarded the report but was then asked to pay an engineer to prove her claim.

Johnson confirmed they are investigating and that the contractor is still waiting for additional documents to prove Nanji's claim. Kiewit now says if that proof is presented, the company would "reimburse her for the relevant expenses she incurred to prove her claim."

“We're very scared the house will fall down,” Nanji said. “The stress, the anxiety, my heart is thumping, my head is swinging, I don’t know what to do.”

The Coquitlam–Cape Horn is a four kilometer Stretch of Highway 1 between the Brunette Avenue Interchange and the west end of the Port Mann Bridge. Construction in this area is expected to take another 12 months and is intended to improve traffic flow and safety. The work includes:

highway widening

reconstruction of the Brunette Avenue Interchange

construction of the new King Edward Street Overpass across Highway 1

reconstruction of the Cape Horn Interchange

With files from CBC's Natalie Clancy

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