By Sabina Mollot
With construction a constant in Manhattan, some residents have the misfortune of hearing trucks back up, pile drivers pound and re-directed motorists curse as the soundtracks to their day. However, one resident of Stuyvesant Town, who lives down the street from the Extell development site and across the street from Con Ed, reached out to us after being woken up at 2:45 a.m. on Tuesday due to work crews on the street.
According to Sherman Sussman, it was at that time that he saw a crew in Con Ed trucks doing non-emergency work in front of 635 East 14th Street. He knew it was non-emergency work after heading downstairs and speaking with the foreman. There were also other trucks idling for over 15 minutes by then, he told us.
“We have been putting up with construction noise both from the site on 14th Street and Avenue C as well as the L train tunnel reconstruction and some sort of Water Authority construction at East 13th Street and Avenue C for months,” he said in an email. “Work often starts at 6:30 a.m. It has become our alarm often for six days a week, not that there aren’t the occasional Sunday mornings!”
As for Con Ed, since the area that is being worked on is already blocked off from traffic, Sussman said he couldn’t understand why it couldn’t be done when the other projects, or rather, “the usual cacophony of noise,” begins each day.
In response to his request, Town & Village reached out to Con Ed, where a spokesperson, Sidney Alvarez, confirmed that the work wasn’t due to an emergency but was affiliated with the ongoing L train reconstruction project that’s already taken over an island on East 14th Street. Other agencies besides the MTA were also involved.
Specifically, the work was aimed at cleaning a manhole with a vacuum truck, which was likely the source of the noise. Alvarez said the reason it was being done at night is because if it were to be done during the day, the project would require closing off or redirecting traffic, which would require a permit. However, he added, following Town & Village’s query as well as the Con Ed crew’s verbal “exchange” with Sussman, work times will be shifted from the current, wee hours to 3-11 p.m., although Alvarez admitted he didn’t know how soon the schedule would reflect this decision. Alvarez was also unsure of why the manhole needed cleaning but said there could be a number of reasons, like dialectic (mineral) fluid or debris getting inside.