JE construction causes headaches

Mornings begin with the crash of debris falling down chutes. Nights end with jackhammers pounding old concrete flooring.

As this year’s renovation of Jonathan Edwards College proceeds, students in nearby Branford College are learning the tough realities of living next to a hard-hat zone. For a variety of reasons — including noise level, roadway obstruction and aesthetics — many students are frustrated with the construction zone next door, but some said they are learning to deal with the noise and obstruction caused by the renovation.

“Even with the windows closed, the noise level is so high that it’s difficult to talk in the room,” said Yuan He ’10, whose room overlooks the construction. “It seems kind of ridiculous to expect us to keep going normally when it’s this noisy all the time.”

Jonathan Edwards Master Gary Haller said the long hours result from the site’s double shift rotation — one daytime shift combined with one during the evening.

“I am aware of the complaints — I had one call from one student [in Branford],” Haller said of the noise. “But I have talked to people on the Art Gallery side [of Jonathan Edwards] and they seem to think it’s going well. They’ve had no complaints.”

Haller said he has not met with project managers since the beginning of August and therefore does not have any updates on the renovation’s timeline.

Repeated attempts to contact University Facilities for comment were unsuccessful Wednesday.

Even students working in the solitude of Branford’s Bessent Library can hear bangs and crashes next door that continue until well past midnight.

The site opens each day at 7:00 a.m. or earlier. Workers in hard hats and day-glo vests laugh, converse loudly — and occasionally swear — as they greet each other in Branford’s smaller courtyards each morning.

That morning chatter is the worst part of Jonathan Edwards’ renovation for Arden Rogow-Bales ’10, who said the loud voices of workers lingering outside his window have affected his sleep schedule this year, making it difficult for him to maintain his usual rhythm.

Traffic flow along York and High streets is also a concern. The construction of covered walkways has bottlenecked traffic and disrupted lines of sight.

“[The construction] makes crossing York Street more dangerous,” Rogow-Bales said. “It’s more narrowed, and it’s more difficult to see oncoming traffic to the left on your way to Davenport.”

Branford Master Steven Smith said students have brought complaints regarding the construction to his office. Smith said in an e-mail that he referred those complaints to Project Manager John-Paolo Fernandes in the Facilities Office. Repeated calls to Fernandes’ office were not returned Wednesday afternoon.

Workers on the site said they understand how annoying construction can be, but they offered little sympathy for students. The demands of the work schedule necessitate the unusual hours, they said.

“What do you want us to do, start at ten in the morning?” said Ralph, a construction worker who asked to be identified only by his first name. “The way I see it, we’re doing this for you. This is your school.”

While Branford students may not see it that way first thing in the morning, they are beginning to adapt. Many Branford students said they have already adjusted their routine by closing windows and moving their studying to Sterling Memorial Library.

The renovation, which began in May, is expected to be completed by fall 2008.

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