Braddon residents alarmed about facing two-and-a-half weeks without sleep while light rail work is carried out all night near their homes have been given a temporary two-day reprieve but are planning to fight to make sure the night works option is completely derailed.
Canberra Metro Construction had informed residents that it would carry out tunnelling works in Braddon from tonight (April 18) until May 5, but yesterday told a resident that those works would be postponed until Friday when “an assessment will be completed re progress and a decision made as to whether the night works option will be actioned”.
However, residents are concerned that this is just “delaying the misery” and want assurances that the night works will be cancelled altogether.
“Forty-eight hours is meaningless. At this stage, all it represents is a stay of execution and we’re not prepared to face the execution,” said Braddon resident Brendan Drake.
Mr Drake said that hundreds of nearby residents are likely to be affected if the tunnelling works go ahead at night and for those residents, it would mean “never-ending sleeplessness”.
“They [the tunnelling works] would start at 6 pm and finish at 7 am and the regular hours of work are 7 am to 6 pm and so it’s effectively 24 hours,” Mr Drake said.
“Sleep deprivation is torture in another context,” he said, adding that Braddon residents shouldn’t have to suffer in order for lost time to be made up in the light rail schedule.
“It’s mindless on the part of the government to allow it to happen. It’s really unbelievable and we shouldn’t have to bear the brunt.”
Under the planned night works’ proposal, which is now under review, tunnelling work was to be undertaken between the Mort Street Car Park and Elouera Street in Braddon during the night from April 18 to May 5, with a break for Anzac Day on April 25.
A micro tunnel boring machine and an excavator were among the noisy machinery Canberra Metro Construction planned to use at night.
“Due to the nature of the work, some of the activities will be noisy,” Canberra Metro Construction admitted on its website.
“The project team will limit these impacts wherever possible and turn off equipment when not in use. Non-tonal reversing beepers will be used and workers will be instructed to keep noise to a minimum.”
One Braddon resident who didn’t want to be named said the work is set to be carried out 15 metres from his unit’s bedroom.
“I’m against them even proposing to do it because it is not an acceptable proposal. It’s going to too greatly affect local residents for too great a period of time – two-and-a-half weeks,” he said.
“All these people around here already have a 7 am alarm from light rail and nearby building sites and they have been jack-hammering and so it is not quiet.”
The Braddon man had been informed that the night works had been postponed until Friday but said he wasn’t told whether this was due to community objections or changes to the work schedule.
“Let’s hope it’s permanent,” he said.
Another Braddon resident who works from home said she already tries to be out for most of the day because of the noise and does not want it to go on all night as well.
“I feel that even though they might be exempt from noise restrictions they still need to take residences into account,” she said.
ACT Opposition Transport spokesperson Candice Burch said there is no way that individuals would be allowed to make the same level of noise at all hours of the night.
“So why is it okay for the government, just because it’s related to light rail?” Ms Burch queried.
“Well, it’s just not fair and it looks like it all comes down to the government playing catch-up on light rail construction,” she said.
“How the government can expect residents to function with little to no sleep for more than two weeks is beyond me.”
Ms Burch said that if the night works go ahead then residents should be offered respite from the noise.
“When Melbourne’s Metro Tunnel project has to do works this noisy for this long, residents are offered alternative accommodation for the duration of the works. This gives them a chance to get a decent night’s sleep. Braddon residents haven’t been offered the same courtesy.”
A spokesperson for the Transport Canberra and City Services Directorate told The RiotACT that the night work in Braddon scheduled to start tonight has been postponed “due to an unexpected need to make adjustments to the work schedule”.
“Out of hours works will be required to complete the necessary works along Elouera Street, however Canberra Metro will make every effort to minimise noise disruption to the community,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said that mitigation activities in place include:
- turning off plant and equipment when not in use
- arranging the site to minimise the noise of movement alarms on vehicles and plant – with the majority of site equipment fitted with reversing beacons/non-tonal movement alarms that eliminate the need for high pitch ‘reversing beepers’
- sequencing the works to minimise out-of-hours noise impacts wherever possible.
Do you think it is fair for the night works to go ahead or should locals be safeguarded from weeks of sleeplessness? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.