From the City of Toronto - Engineering and Construction Services
While the overnight noise levels of the Gardiner Rehabilitation work over the past few months have generally stayed within the threshold limits, last week week we were alerted to louder than usual activity. We consulted with the contractor, who believes the noise exceedances were likely due to saw-cutting the expansion joint at the base of the Lower Jarvis Street on-ramp, which has thicker layers of steel and may be creating louder saw-cutting noise levels than usual.
The contractor also believes the banging noises residents heard from the Lower Jarvis on-ramp over the past few nights were likely due to crews removing concrete overhangs along the existing ramp. The majority of overhang removals on the Lower Jarvis on-ramp is expected to be complete within the next two weeks.
While the contractor has upgraded all their long-term equipment on site to include low-frequency broadband alarms, an on-site inspector identified a man-lift in use that was not equipped with a broadband beeper. The contractor has assured us they will stop using this particular manlift until its backup beeper can be replaced. Please note there are still times when on-the-road vehicles need to be used at the construction site; these vehicles use provincial standard back-up alarms for safety purposes to notify workers, pedestrians, and other vehicles of their approach when backing up. These vehicles are outside the contractor's control, and their alarms may still be heard on site.
According to the contractor, the image of the on-site equipment that was shared by a resident at Monde condominium thought to be a hoe-ram is a photo of a mini-excavator with a bucket attachment at the end. This mini-excavator is being used on the Lower Jarvis on-ramp for non-disruptive purposes, such as spreading/cleaning up sand from the concrete slurry and debris. It’s possible that a situation may have come up during the night shift that required the excavator to perform unscheduled noisy work for a short period of time. If this is the case, we have been informed the situation would be considered a one-off and not part of the normal work activities on the ramp. The contractor has assured us they take these complaints seriously and will continue monitoring its activities. Mechanical chippers, sometimes referred to as a “hoe-ram", are not being used at night on the Gardiner Expressway Rehabilitation Project.
Crews working during lighting storm
We received concerns regarding the safety of the contractor's workers on the Gardiner Expressway Rehabilitation Project on the night of June 2, 2020. After conducting an internal investigation, the contractor determined that workers were in compliance of the Lightning Action Protocol as outlined in the Environmental Health & Safety Management Manual. To ensure the protection of the contractor's workers, subcontractors, partners, and clients from any health and safety risks as a result of the execution of their business activities, there is a Health & Safety Representative on site during each shift to proactively identify, asses, and control risks to the crew's safety and wellbeing, which includes monitoring hazardous weather conditions. Additionally, the contractor encourages their work force to report any hazards that may be critical to their health and safety and no such reports were received from workers on the night of June 2.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the decreased traffic on the Gardiner and Lake Shore Boulevard East, the City has allowed for longer Lake Shore Boulevard East lane closures to facilitate the ongoing rehabilitation work, which allows the contractor longer periods during both day and night-shifts to complete critical activities that require lane closures below.
As you may have read in previous correspondence, this project is extremely complex and follows a 24/7 schedule so that the rehabilitation can be completed as quickly as possible. The type of activities that can produce higher levels of noise, such as sawcutting and removing concrete deck panels, are some of the most dangerous and high-risk activities on the project. The most dangerous work is completed during overnight hours, when there is the least traffic on and below the expressway. This schedule allows the Gardiner rehabilitation to progress safely for both construction workers and the traveling public, and, keeping nearby residents in mind, working these hours reduces the duration of the construction time from four years to two years.
Additionally, noisy work is not limited to night-shifts – there are several construction activities on the expressway deck during the day-shift that produce similar noises (hammering, sawing, drilling, backup alarms, etc.) to the overnight activities. Many of these day-shift activities take place underneath the Gardiner deck, out of sight for residents who live at the same height or above the expressway, and the sounds from these activities are often masked by the traffic and downtown city ambience that surrounds the construction site during the day. While these work activities are just as essential as the ones that are scheduled at night, the majority of them do not require there to be less traffic occupancy on the Lake Shore Blvd lanes below, which is why they’re scheduled during the day.
Having said that, exceeding the set-out overnight noise allowances is not acceptable and staff are currently working together with the contractor and our colleagues in Transportation Services and exploring the possibility of moving the night shift to an earlier start time to support completing the ramp removal earlier and mitigate the noise impacts.
Thank you for continuing to share your noise concerns with us and we apologize for the disruptive noises you have had to deal with over the past few days. While demolition work on the Lower Jarvis on-ramp is unfortunately unavoidable and must be done before the ramp can be rebuilt, we are continuing to listen to the residents’ concerns and working closely with the contractor to see where the noise could be mitigated moving forward.
Communications Coordinator - City of Toronto