Hook Ave pile drivers the noise, the slaming, the people

West Toronto Diamond project

Pile Driver Noise Control

Pile Driver Shutter Control

….a possible model to help from past experience in the community… Every few years the close knit relationship between the railways and the residents in the Junction gets worked on, now is one of those times. The last major time was the introduction of the Canadian Pacific railroad’s  Iron Highway Rail Project in 95 and 96 (near where a Rona hardware  store now stands).

This was a noisy project with lots of action, with crews driving trucks onto trains, at all hours and with new, untested equipment.  At the same time the CPR was parking trains near Vine Avenue parkette and doing a lot of humping of train cars – something the crews are not supposed to do.

The community was mad and felt the CPR did not listen to them.

In the current situation the community closest (Hook Ave. and area, but the issue will spread as the construction moves along the route) to the current installation of  interlocking steel pipe piling system being used in the West Toronto Diamond project is feeling unheard and disrespected by the CN, the CPR, GO Transit and their contractors, which is right, as they may be. Yet the community needs to really organize fast and with a detailed action plan, as the Junction community did in 95 and 96, during the Iron highway project.

In this case the community had the local federal MP  at time; John Nunziata attended  meetings with the CPR and  add strong to support the community efforts. The CPR for it’s part took the reasonably well organized working group serious and brought in it’s Vice president of government affairs to Toronto (from Montreal) for the meetings. The CPR also had to attend to an assortment of engineers and the mangers who  locally managed the yard.

With a considerable number of meetings – at least once a month, which took place at the CPR building, in the West Toronto Yard, a lot of goals were met.

1) no parking signs for trains were installed along the railway track in certain areas – one can be viewed on the other side if fence at the back of Vine Parkette.  This greatly reduced house shaking and the constant vibration.

2) the Iron highway project was managed in a manner that relieved much of the stress on the community.

3) Humping 1 of trains was stopped and along with it the jarring house shaking.

4) The CPR donated $5,000.00 to the Historical Society

5)  the installation of smart start train idling technology was sped up, so train noise could be reduced

What was learned from the last experience may well prove to be helpful in this one. A quick outline of a plan now, that was used in the past could  include.

a) request that the local federal MP attend meetings set up with the railroad bodies charged with the project.

b) request to the CPR, CN and GO transit that an immediate meeting is required, so the community can formally present it’s issues and research on the problem.

c)  review the current law –  a good source is the The Railway Association of Canada regulations site

d) push to have all parties schedule a regular set of meetings, it will cause action in the interim between meetings

…yet in the contractors defense, the community needs to be preemptive in areas such as these, one example would be to contact the excavation contractor who will remove the soil between the pilings now to start a dialogue of mutual help. (There are reports this will be a different contractor then the one on site now.

  1.  Many large railroad yards are equipped with humps, small artificial hills, that function to take advantage of gravity. A train is pushed, car by car, over this hump and each car is uncoupled. When the car(s) roll down the hill, they are automatically routed to one of many tracks at the bottom of the hill, where they are assembled into new trains.

7 Comments

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  1. Hook Avenue resident says:

    Actually the community has organized. There was a large meeting a couple of weeks ago where concerned community members affected by the piledrivers was held, leaders were selected and a list serv created for communication. No one wants the construction to stop but the pile drivers should be upgraded to (more expensive) silent technology. GO hasn’t communicated meaningfully with affected residents, they were told “construction would be ongoing” with no end date for the pile drivers.

  2. Osler Resident says:

    I believe MP Gerard Kennedy is trying to organize something to address this. Contact his office to find out what he’s planning.

  3. John says:

    Cheri DiNova is actively involved on this issue. Her office has lots of information.

  4. Danielle Harmond says:

    We live at Mountview avenue and Bloor, and the echo, the noise is…
    unbearable sometimes. Sure, the proiect is important, but the
    headaches….!!

  5. West Diamond Dweller says:

    Following up to the post by Hook Ave Resident, the community has been mobilized since the construction began. Since GO did not inform the community that the project was even about the begin, the residents and businesses could only take action once they figured out what was causing the loud noises and constant vibrations.

    Since then, the entire community has become involved.. pressuring GO so much that they had to hire a PR consultant specifically to deal with the complaints with regard to this project and also, GO had Info Sessions for the public but they did not publicize this too widely.

    GO are avoiding meeting with concerned citizens because they don’t want to do anything; no details of the project and methods for citizens; no change in construction method as they are happy with the cheapest way (also the most destructive). This issue is important because it shows the power of big business… The bureaucracy that intertwines GO, the Ontario Government and the Feds has put us between a rock and a hard place.

    There has been a total disregard for local businesses, schools, and the general health and well being of local buildings and residents. Residents are not against the project per se but the method of construction, and lack of transparency with regard to the project.

  6. Diane says:

    The house taxes should be lower for the homes that are closest to the train tracks , due to the frequent trains passing and noise associated .

  7. West Diamond Leaders says:

    This is an update on negotiations with GO Transit on behalf of the community affected by noise and vibration from the West Toronto Diamond grade separation project.

    A small group met with GO last Tuesday. GO reported that they are investigating the following:

    – the use of vibratory hammers (*see explanation below) for the first 80 per cent of every pile, using diesel hammer pile drivers only for the final 20 per cent of the necessary depth. This should result in a significant noise reduction.
    – shrouds and noise barriers, sand bags to reduce noise
    – Use of augers rather than pile drivers for the third (inner) line of piles. (The project includes three lines or rows of piles to be driven in parallel.) This would significantly reduce the duration of piledriving noise and vibration.

    While the efforts are appreciated and applauded, there was no commitment by GO to a date by which these measures would be employed or even an assurance that they would be employed at all.

    For that reason, your representatives has asked GO to commit to ceasing diesel hammer piledriving by May 8 — stopping construction — until the vibratory hammers can be put in place.

    The group also asked for a meeting two weeks after the resumption of construction in order to provide community feedback on whether the noise and vibrtation have been reduced to tolerable levels. Regular follow up meetings are also requested.

    If GO is unable to meet these terms, the group indicated it will immediately take the matter forward to the Canadian Transportation Agency for informal mediation. If GO does not agree to informal mediation, a formal complaint — which they will have to answer — can be made.

    In addition, GO was asked for assurances that natural landscaping would be put in place after the project is completed and asked to consider playground improvements for affected schools as a gesture of good will toward the community.

    Finally, the community should be aware that GO has expressed an interest in extending the hours of work past 4 p.m. and perhaps even into weekends in order to complete work as soon as possible. They believe the community would welcome a reduction in the duration of the work even if it means longer hours of work each day until completion. Your representatives did not agree but said the community would be polled on that issue after the noise reduction measures are in place. GO did say that, in any circumstance, diesel hammers would be restricted to 7:30 to 4 p.m. weekdays.

    Although it was not part of the negotiation meeting, at this writing, a GO representative has indicated that interns will be hired to visit affected homes to document issues, concerns and damages. As well, it’s been suggested that a daytime respite centre might be established for senior citizens.

    *vibratory hammers are reported to create about 85 decibels of noise compared with reports of 125 decibels of noise from diesel hammer pile drivers. We have no information on impact of vibration from either type of piledriver. GO has indicated they have been using diesel hammer piledrivers because of soil conditions in the area and the fact that diesel pile drivers produce the required accuracy.

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