January 27, 2013

Court construction project's neighbors endure noise, shaking with good humor

$62 million project to expand Kennebec County court houses in Augusta is on time and under budget, project manager says

By Betty Adams badams@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA -- The front porch of the apartment building at 32 Court St. offers a great view of the construction site of a new courthouse bordered by Winthrop, Perham and Court streets.

click image to enlarge

Scott Theriault said the noise at his house, at 6 Court St. in Augusta, on Monday is to be expected from the construction of the Kennebec County court houses project.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

click image to enlarge

Workers build concrete forms in the foreground as pile driving continues on Tuesday at construction site for the Kennebec County court houses.

Staff file photo by Joe Phelan

COURTHOUSE TIMELINE

* October 2009: Plans are announced for a $55 million consolidated courthouse to connect to existing Kennebec County court building in Augusta.

* August/September 2012: Site work begins; former home of Crisis & Counseling Centers Inc., and the 1923 Augusta Spiritualist Church are demolished to make way for the new, four-story building.

* Spring 2015: Projected completion date for the new courthouse.

COURTHOUSE COSTS

Successful subcontractor bids submitted for the courthouse work:

Phase 1

Electrical work: Don's Electric, Monmouth: $69,536.

Shoring: H.B. Fleming of South Portland: $352,500 (building) and $117,800 (retaining wall)

Site work: Steven A. McGee, West Gardiner: $161,000

Demolition: Steven A. McGee: $89,000.

Phase 2

Piles: H. B. Fleming: base & sheet: $527,700

Site work: R.J. Grondin, Gorham: $1.67 million.

Phase 3

Concrete: Consigli, Portland: $1.8 million

Elevators: Stanley Elevator Co., Inc., Nashua, N.H.: $557,450

Structural Steel: Les Industries Canatal, Inc., Thetford Mines, Quebec: $2.2 million

Source: Maine Bureau of General Services

The tenants in the seven-unit building, and other nearby households, get to hear and feel the construction, as well.

They rock to the rhythm of 276 piles being pounded into bedrock to anchor the four-story courthouse. They hear the beep, beep, beep of the trucks and loaders backing up to deliver or cart off material. The noise carries across and along the Kennebec River.

Work begins at 7 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m., a restriction that takes into account the residential neighborhood, but is small comfort to the apartment tenants and some other nearby homeowners.

"I don't have to set my alarm clock any more in the morning," said Rep. Matt Pouliot, R-Augusta, who lives on Winthrop Court, within sight of the project. Pouliot is on the city's Planning Board and saw the project proposal in its initial stages.

But the Augusta legislator has heard no complaints about noise or the project, which is being managed by Consigli of Portland, and neither have others involved with the project.

"As a representative of that district, I have not received any calls or complaints," Pouliot said. "I think the public notice process of that project was well done. Consigli appears to really do a good job with public awareness. I think that preempted a lot of complaints that would have occurred.

"As a neighbor I can say I'm pleased and will be more pleased when we have a state-of-the-art court complex in the heart of our downtown area."

Across Winthrop Street, however, the constant racket has gotten to Shannon Perkins, who has lived in an apartment at 32 Court St. for about a year.

"It's insanely noisy," she said, which is a particular problem during her children's nap time. She believes the vibrations from the construction work have affected her apartment as well. "It's split the plaster in the ceiling."

Scott Theriault, who also lives in the building and who does maintenance on it via his company, All-Trade Services, took a more philosophical approach.

"Construction must go on; that's why there's not much sense in complaining," Theriault said. "We all pretty much know there's nothing we can do about it. Pretty much we're hoping it's going to end soon."

He said the worst part for him is watching some of the effects, including the cracking plaster on the apartment building itself.

Tenants in two other units in the building said the construction had little effect on them. One man said he works in construction himself, so he's used to the accompanying noises. Another man said he appreciates the fact that the work hours are limited.

A sign posted on a fence reminds those driving onto the construction site that they're working in a neighborhood and to be respectful of that fact and of the work-hour limits.

Busy area

The neighborhood of Perham Street and Winthrop Court and some other nearby buildings, including the Kennebec County jail, have lived through the razing of the former home of Crisis & Counseling Centers, Inc., and of the Augusta Spiritual Church.

Gregory Roy, owner of 32 Court St., and a Realtor affiliated with The Maine Real Estate Network, said the fallout from the courthouse construction has done some damage to the building and perhaps to the occupants' psyche.

"I believe it may have resulted in some unhappy tenants from time to time and may have resulted in one or two vacancies that had to be filled," Roy said.

(Continued on page 2)

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