Bang! Bang! Bang! Pile Driving At High School Starts Tuesday, Aug. 20

Photo: Pile driving set to start on Tuesday.

Get ready, Belmont. Beginning early next week, the neighbors living near the Belmont Middle and High School construction site will soon be listening to 10 hours a day of “the rockinest, rock-steady beat” of pile driving madness.

That’s the word from Skanska, the project’s general contractor, which announced the long awaited installation of the underpinnings of the new school’s foundation at the Belmont Middle and High School Building Committee meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 13. The foundation will require a few hundred piles (essentially poles) to transfer the large building loads to the earth farther down from the surface.

According to Project Manager Mike Morrison, the pile driving team will be onsite by Friday, Aug. 16 with the actual installation of the first of the 80 foot piles beginning on Tuesday, Aug. 20.

And the pounding will be a constant for residents and students for the next months. The steady beat of the drill pounding away on the site will run from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

In addition, due to state regulations on the transportation of extremely long piles on highways, residents can expect deliveries traveling on town streets from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m.

Just how long will the steady beat of piles being driven deep into the soil? Morrison would only say the work will continue “through the fall” with no specific end date.

And it will be loud. According to data from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the noise produced when the anvil strikes the strike plate on the pile can generate noise as much as 135 dB, which is somewhere between jackhammer and a jet engine. Even 200 feet from the source, the noise can reach 68 dB.

For some, the vibration and noise can be too much. On the website, the pile driving conducted at the former Lane & Games bowling alley off of Route 2 in North Cambridge a year ago brought a torrid of complaints from Arlington and Cambridge residents.

“Like you, we’re pretty annoyed by hearing it start up every morning in the distance, like the Excedrin headache from @#$%,” wrote David S.

The work will begin close to the school than move outward towards Harris Field and the intersection of Concord Avenue and Goden Street. Prior to the work starting, owners of 43 of approximately 76 residential structures signed up to have the exterior of their properties examined.

John Phelan, Belmont Schools Superintendent, said he and Isaac Taylor, the High School’s new principal, will be on site when the pile driving begins to monitor the noise level. But he doesn’t believe the noise or vibration will affect learning as students are adept at attending classes with up to seven MBTA commuter trains rumble adjacent to the school.

Belmont Town Administrator Patrice Garvin said residents will be provided a heads up on the start of the job via the police department’s “reverse 911” system.

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