A pounding headache: Railroad bridge work makes sleep difficult for Moorhead residents
MOORHEAD - Think of yourself as living in an apartment right next to the biggest cathedral bell in town, and it's sounding all day and all night, and you've got the noise that Joni Perna and her daughter have lived with the past couple of days as...
MOORHEAD - Think of yourself as living in an apartment right next to the biggest cathedral bell in town, and it's sounding all day and all night, and you've got the noise that Joni Perna and her daughter have lived with the past couple of days as new railroad pilings are being rammed into the Red River's bank and river bottom.
The deep, rhythmic clank of pilings being smacked into the earth by a pile driver to replace a chunk of BNSF Railway tracks echoes in an aural assault felt in the bones of those outside near the work site.
"The pounding of the piles, that is continuous. Boom. Boom. Boom," Perna said Wednesday.
She's been told the pile driving will continue until about midnight tonight.
"How do you sleep through that? We couldn't sleep from 8 to midnight last night. Finally she fell asleep (from exhaustion) and we got up at 5," Perna said Wednesday.
A tarpaulin covers part of her building so oil used to lubricate the pile driver doesn't splash onto windows and brick.
BNSF has offered to put people living in the Riverside Condos up in a hotel, but Perna's daughter is handicapped and on oxygen, so she's decided to accept monetary reimbursement.
"It's just too inconvenient for us to leave," she said.
Replacing the 250 feet of timber trestle bridge on the Moorhead side of the river for Main Track No. 1 began Tuesday.
Wooden pilings, track panels and ballast were removed from the bridge, sited between the Veterans Memorial Bridge and the Center Avenue/NP Avenue bridge, said BNSF spokeswoman Amy McBeth.
They'll be replaced with steel pilings, pre-stressed concrete spans, new track panels and ballast, she said.
The work is being done 24 hours a day through Sunday to minimize the impact to the city and BNSF, McBeth said. Otherwise, the process could drag out for months.
Only the people in the Riverside Condos were offered hotel rooms or reimbursement.
"We're not obligated to do it. We're doing it to be good neighbors," McBeth said.
Danica Reitzner, however, likely wishes BNSF would expand its definition of neighbor. She and a roommate live in the apartments south of the Veterans Memorial Bridge, perhaps 40 yards farther from the work site than Perna. There's no standing comfortably on her third-floor balcony when the pile driver hammers away.
"It's a lot of fun. Definitely," said Reitzner, adding that she regrets running out of ibuprofen to take the edge off a headache.
"Some people think it's kind of fun, too, in between the pounding on that thing, they'll honk their horn. It's honk, pound, honk, pound. It's like, 'Really?' I didn't think it's all that necessary," the Minnesota State University Moorhead student said.
"We actually have a lot of young families in the building," Reitzner said. "I don't know what they (BNSF) expect them to do. They can't really take their kids to hotels the first couple weeks of school. I just think it's really bad timing."
The Third Street underpass here is closed to vehicle traffic during construction and cleanup.
Trains are still running on Main Track 2, but at slower speeds. Train horns are being sounded despite the area's Quiet Zone designation, as required by federal law, McBeth said.
McBeth said this is the third phase of a four-phase project. Work on the Fargo side of the north tracks will be done next year.
Perna said she's prepared for that, too.
"It's just an inconvenience we have to live through," Perna said. "It's better that than have a train fall off the tracks."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583