NEW TAMPA — The city is making efforts, including relocating water pumps, to quiet around-the-clock noise in the latest phase of the controversial Interstate 75 bridge project.
The changes come after Josh Coykendall, who lives in the Promenade, a townhouse community near the construction site, complained that his wife couldn't sleep through the night.
The Coykendalls knew the bridge would increase traffic through the neighborhood and, in the short term, cause some inconveniences. But the nighttime racket was more annoyance than they could bear.
"As far as them keeping us up all night on top of all of those other things, it's just a violation," Joshua Coykendall, 35, remembers thinking when the racket began in June.
To make matters worse, Jean Ann is six months pregnant.
The $16 million project is intended to reduce traffic on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard by providing an alternate route to West Meadows and other New Tampa neighborhoods. At times, water pumps have roared 24 hours a day, the Coykendalls say.
Promenade residents complained among themselves, but by Aug. 24 the Coykendalls were fed up. Josh Coykendall marched over to confront the workers. When they refused to quiet down, he called the police and activity stopped for the night.
The next day, he sought out Jim Hudock, who was listed on a city sign as a project supervisor. Within a few days the two men linked up, and Hudock devised an action plan.
By city ordinance, construction noise cannot surpass certain decibel levels. The New Tampa bridge project was within those guidelines, but that doesn't stop the city from doing more to mitigate the din, Hudock said.
"I explained to him we're going to try to do everything we can to keep the noise down and address his concern," Hudock said.
The water pumps are being moved away from the Promenade and will be encased in plywood to reduce the racket.
Although the changes aren't required, they are part of the city's ongoing effort to minimize the impact on residents during the construction, scheduled to be complete by May 2013.
Because there are homes nearby, certain inconveniences are unavoidable, said Sandra Piccirilli, a senior construction engineer and the project manager.
"It's unfortunate that there is one small area of the project that is closer to residential than the rest of it," she said. "What we're trying to do is get in and out of there as quickly as possible."
Homeowners' complaints have long plagued the bridge, delaying construction plans until this year.
People living in Tampa Palms and West Meadows tried to block permits and argued that the bridge would increase traffic in their neighborhoods and create a potential hazard for schoolchildren, pedestrians and wildlife.
The Environmental Protection Commission, which consists of all Hillsborough County commissioners, cleared the final hurdle to construction in January by overturning a resident's challenge to a wetlands permit.
The Tampa City Council hired a construction company and engineering firm in April, and work on the two-lane bridge began soon after. The overpass will include bike lanes and sidewalks. Eventually, it may be widened to four lanes.
As construction commenced, Piccirilli held forums for residents and kept in touch with the staff at Freedom High and Liberty Middle schools, which are near the construction area.
She told them to contact the city if problems arise and to be patient. The result will be worth it, she said. "It has to be done."
Contact Tia Mitchell at [email protected] or (813) 226-3405.