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story.lead_photo.caption Work continues Tuesday on the Interstate 630 widening project in Little Rock, as seen from Arthur Street in the University Park neighborhood looking north near the Hughes Street overpass. - Photo by John Sykes Jr.

A crescendo of noise generated by work on the $87.4 million project to widen a section of Interstate 630 in west Little Rock has abated somewhat. For now.

The noise was associated with demolishing the eastbound lanes of the bridges over Rodney Parham Road and Rock Creek. The work included breaking up the concrete and cutting large steel beams, work that lasted all weekend and into this week.

"We are just about through with that phase of the removal," said Mark Windle, a vice president for the project contractor, Manhattan Road and Bridge of Tulsa. "Probably this week, we'll pretty much wrap that up.

"It was pretty loud having to take that deck off and cutting those beams and removing them. We had to do some of that at night," he said. "But that should be discontinued within the next few days."

Windle say the workers try to be as considerate as they can under the circumstances.

"We try to do the hammering stuff during the day," he said. "But taking the stuff down over Rodney Parham, we had to do that at night, close it down and reroute the traffic. That's probably what they heard."

He said the concrete deck of both bridges has been removed and almost all of the steel beam, as well.

"It'll be kind of calm for awhile while we are rebuilding and doing things," Windle said. "There might be some pile driving ... but that will be short term and during the day."

That would be music to the ears of residents who live near the 2.2-mile segment of the interstate between Baptist Health Medical Center and South University Avenue.

"The noise is not like that all of the time, but when they have to break up the cement and when they have to drive in those [piles], the earth shakes," said Mary-Julia Hill, president of the Briarwood Area Neighborhood Association, which represents owners of homes lining the freeway between South University Avenue and Mississippi Street. "It does. But they're not doing that every day and every night, thank God."

She read complaints on social media during the height of the work.

"I saw on Next Door that some people were losing their minds," Hill said. "I think part of it was fear that they didn't know what it was."

The phase of the project was the second in which the Briarwood area was exposed to particularly loud noise associated with the work. The first was this summer when the contractor removed the Hughes Street overpass.

"When they were doing the Hughes Street bridge and they were busting up the bridge, they have to use ... the same type of equipment," she said. "It sounds like jackhammers. That's what they were doing down on the Mississippi bridge. It's the same noise. I am physically located closer to the Hughes bridge, but, of course, I heard it."

Hill said the Arkansas Department of Transportation team overseeing the project and other projects that are part of the agency's $1.8 billion Connecting Arkansas Program have been good at communicating with the neighborhood and warning them in advance of the noise levels.

"I get news releases that I share and I share their monthly newsletter so we let people know in advance when it is going to be bad," she said. "This last release specifically said noise. We were prepared."

It doesn't hurt that they are familiar with what to expect, Hill added.

"It helps that we've been through it with the Hughes Street bridge," she said. "We know it's a finite amount of time and it's a process and it's not going to be forever."

Others seem to be used to it.

Eleanor Coleman is past president of the University Park Neighborhood Association, which represents about 150 homes bordering the south side of the interstate. The noise hasn't bothered her.

"We can hear it, but I guess you get immune to it," she said. "I guess it depends on where you live."

Hill, Coleman and other residents will have to go through that process of noise one more time, likely in June, according to Windle.

The bridge removal that began last weekend only involved the eastbound lanes. The next phase will involve removing the westbound lanes of the bridges.

"I hate to say that is good, but the children will be out of school," Hill said.

Metro on 01/09/2019

Print Headline: I-630 road crews turn down the volume — for now

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