NYC Allows Tens of Thousands of Overnight Construction Projects

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Tens of thousands of construction projects receive after-hours permits throughout the year, NBC 4 New York has learned. The Department of Buildings alone hands out about 30,000 overnight work permits throughout the year. (Published Tuesday, May 7, 2013)

    The city that never sleeps seems to have a new culprit for all those sleepless nights: construction.

    Tens of thousands of construction projects receive after-hours permits throughout the year, NBC 4 New York has learned. The Department of Buildings alone hands out about 30,000 overnight work permits throughout the year.

    One of those projects, the budding skyscraper called Manhattan West, has been a persistent headache for neighbors, particularly Fashion Institute of Technology students living at the Kaufman Hall dormitory on West 31st Street. 

    "It's unbelievable how loud that jackhammer can be," said Sumner Williams. 

    NBC 4 New York reported in March the loud, pounding noise has kept students in the residence hall awake, prompting complaints of stress, suffering school work and declining quality of life. 

    On the Upper East Side, Babbie Jacobs is vowing to move out of the neighborhood after enduring months of construction work on the Second Avenue Subway project. 

    "It jolts you out of bed, I can tell you that much," said Jacobs. 

    And on Coney Island, residents have griped about the pile-driving overnight, describing the noise as "devastating." 

    But the city's buildings department says the late-night work is nothing new and that it's been handing out the same number of permits for years. The mayor's office added that noise complaints to the 311 hotline are down 20 percent since 2008.

    Developers and city officials say safety is a key reason for working late. Stopping work at 5 p.m. can leave a job site in dangerous conditions, according to officials. At other projects, like the Second Avenue Subway, stopping for the night could add months or years to a completion date.

    A spokesman for Mayor Bloomberg said, "The safest construction project is one that is completed, and after-hours work is critical to finishing these projects as soon as possible.”

    Some of the overnight hammering will soon come to an end: the Parks Department, at least, has been furiously racing to fix Sandy-battered boardwalks by May 24, the opening of beach season.

    "We do understand it's an imposition on the neighbors," said Deputy Parks Commissioner Liam Kavanagh. "We apologize for that. We're gonna try to wrap it up as quickly as we can."

    Residents who are having trouble dealing with construction noise can check the permits on the project, which by law must be posted near the site. The permit should list the hours when construction is allowed. They can then call 311 and ask for the agency in charge of that site and contact that agency directly. The local city council member should also be able to help contact an agency in charge of a construction project.