Hospital, DUC-ling Construction Disrupts Students

Construction workers pave the road on Clifton Road./Richard Chess, Asst. News Editor/City
Construction workers pave the road on Clifton Road./Richard Chess, Asst. News Editor/City

Students have had to to adapt their daily patterns by evading barriers and avoiding loud noise when possible, as construction ensues on both the Hospital Tower/Clifton Streetscape and the new Campus Life Center (CLC) projects. The Wheel spoke with Harris Hall and the Complex Hall residents, the majority of whom said they found themselves deprived of sleep after nighttime work commenced on Clifton Road.

Hospital, Clifton Road Work Continues

Construction on the new Emory University Hospital (EUH) “J-wing” 10-story tower has been ongoing since 2013 in conjunction with the “Clifton Road Streetscape” project and the replacement of the bridge that connects EUH Clinics A and B. Benefits to the road improvement include “calming traffic, increasing pedestrian, bicyclist and vehicular safety, improving access and traffic flow on North Decatur Road and greatly enhancing the aesthetics of Clifton Road,” according to the project’s website.

EUH is on a “completely separate [management] side of Emory” although communication has been ongoing between the two entities regarding construction projects, according to Housing Facilities and Operations Manager Jonathan Cooper.

DeKalb County municipal code states that, “construction and demolition activity or deliveries shall only be performed between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays, or between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturdays.”

Director of Planning and Sustainability Andrew Baker did not respond to multiple requests for information regarding potential special construction permits acquired by the University.

Clifton Road Project Manager Alfred Herzog did not respond to request for comment by press time. EUH CEO Bryce Gartland wrote in a March 24 statement to the Wheel on behalf of Emory Healthcare that construction crews for EUH tower and Clifton Streetscape work from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, per DeKalb County ordinances, but that sometimes overnight work is required to prevent traffic congestion during the day.

“There are times during both projects where work needed to be completed overnight to keep traffic flowing smoothly,” Gartland’s statement reads. “Some of those incidences include: erecting the new pedestrian bridge crossing Clifton Road, removing the old pedestrian bridge crossing Clifton Road and milling and paving Clifton Road. Otherwise, construction crews work normal hours, respecting evening quiet hours.”

The Streetscape website clarifies that lane closures and “other inconveniences” were scheduled to take place during the day and night.

“Much of the regrading and resurfacing work [on Clifton Road] will be done at night,” the website reads.

Nighttime Work Disrupts Majority of Students

More than a dozen students living in Harris and Complex said they have been disturbed by evening and early-hour construction.

“It’s annoying because I hear the construction at midnight and I try to go to bed at 11:30 p.m.,” Harris resident Sereena Jivraj (19C) said. “I wake up at 1 a.m. consistently because of the noise.”

Harris resident Sarah Elmongy (19C) echoed Jivraj’s sentiments.

“If Emory can afford to bring a camel into the center of campus for the hell of it, they can afford to do construction at more convenient times,” Elmongy said. “Considering the amount Emory costs and the experience we’re meant to be getting, we shouldn’t be woken up by construction that isn’t even benefitting us. We shouldn’t be forced to take other routes just because Emory wants to make its hospital prettier.”

However, not all students were bothered by the ongoing work.

“I don’t really mind it because I’m a heavy sleeper,” Harris resident Anna Lee Pokrzywa (19C) said. “I can’t hear the construction anytime because we live on the opposite side of the [project].”

Other students complained about the noise waking them up in the early morning hours.

“It wakes me up before 8 a.m., and I can hear it through my window,” Harris resident Karla Guevara (19C) said. “If I have a later class and I want to sleep in, I can’t. Sometimes at night all I hear [are] the machines and beeping.”

Complex resident Joel Varner (20C) said he feels his room shaking because of the construction.

“It’s inconvenient especially at 12 a.m. and one o’clock in the morning,” Varner said. “When they were paving the street at night, it even got to the point where my room on the third level [of Hopkins Hall] was shaking and other guys on my floor had the same experience.”

CLC, DUC-Ling Project Moves Along As Scheduled

On the University’s campus, students have had to navigate the ever-changing maze of temporary fencing as work continues on the DUC-ling interim dining facility and construction of the CLC to replace the Dobbs University Center (DUC).

Student complaints regarding noise and disruption from the DUC-ling/CLC project have been minimal, although the project is still in a pre-construction phase, as work hasn’t gone vertical on the new building, according to Cooper.

“We have occasional complaints [about noise and disruption] and we deal with those individually,” Cooper said.

He added that he wants to increase Residence Life’s communication with students regarding the project and plans to launch a website for construction updates in the near future.

The University held two town halls March 15 and March 22 with approximately 10 students in attendance at each, to answer questions about the projects and display building designs. Barring unexpected incidences, the DUC-ling is anticipated to open on time and scheduled to serve its first meal to people living on campus over the summer in May, according to DUC-ling project manager Charles Rossignol.

“In a lot of ways, the [DUC-ling] is going to be better [than the DUC],” Rossignol said at the first event, citing the new kitchen facilities and improved tray return, which will allow more than one individual at a time to deposit their tray.

Construction workers were delayed briefly over spring break because of a rock in front of Dobbs Hall that workers found while boring an eight-foot wide and 14-foot deep trench on Asbury Circle for a drain line.

“We hit something 14 feet down, and that almost derailed our whole spring break plan,” Rossignol said. “It was a rock half the size of a car and we figure it was from when they built Dobbs here about 100 years ago.”

Although students will be able to enjoy the CLC after the project is completed, the price comes in  disruptions from construction crews in the center of campus for the next two years.

“There’s going to be noise in that corridor,” Cooper said. “There’s no doubt about that.”

Brian Savino and Richard Chess contributed reporting.

Correction (4/5 at 5:36 p.m.): The article originally stated that Jonathan Cooper works in the Department of Residential Life. Cooper works in the Office of Residence Life and Housing Operations. Anna Lee Pokrzywa was misidentified as Anna Lee.

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