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August 20, 2014

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Loss of some sleep just the price of progress at Tenaya Way

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Sam Morris

Construction equipment rests Friday at the Tenaya Way overpass and the San Moritz housing development. Some work on the overpass has taken place in the wee hours.

This wasn’t one of those sounds that wake you up gently, like a clock radio you’ve left on accidentally.

And unlike on a radio, there was no “off” button to press at 2:25 a.m. Friday when an earth-ripping tool that sounded like a jackhammer was deployed — seemingly on the roof of my apartment.

Construction workers began their labor on the city’s Tenaya Way overpass project early Friday morning. Incredibly early.

A kindly 311 nonemergency police dispatcher told me I certainly wasn’t the only caller — but that nothing could be done because this was a Las Vegas city project. Officials had most likely granted a special “off-hours” authorization to the contractor to blast away, she said. She then gave me the number of the city’s Building Services Department.

The racket, which lasted more than 50 minutes, must have woken up at least half my neighborhood near Tenaya and Washington Avenue.

My apartment overlooks Tenaya, so I’ve been as close to the construction as anyone.

There have been plenty of early-morning starts for the construction crew, as early as 6:30 a.m. That’s to be expected. But never could I remember a middle-of-the-night jolt like the one I received Friday.

The overpass is part of a $7.8 million project officially called the Tenaya Way Overpass and Bonanza Trail improvement project. It will link Tenaya by bridge over Summerlin Parkway, connecting Washington and points north to Westcliff Drive and points south.

The overpass will include retaining walls, barrier rails and median. The project also will include a 1,350-foot pathway to be called the Bonanza Trail on the north side of the parkway, connecting Bill Briare Family Park to the Kellogg-Zaher Sports Complex.

The overpass project has also caused headaches for those who use the parkway. Various onramps and offramps and the parkway itself have been closed several times for short periods since the project kicked off in January.

Moreover, the project was initially slated for 10 months, meaning it was expected to be completed about now. That’s been delayed until some time next month, when the overpass will open. In the spring, final paving will take place.

At 3:42 a.m., unable to sleep, I sent Debby Ackerman and David Riggleman, city public information officers, a list of questions about the dead of night rat-a-tat-tat.

Later, I also tried the construction contractor, Southwest Iron Works, that is spearheading the project. Travis Gardner, the contractor’s project manager for the Tenaya Way overpass, did not return a call for comment.

Ackerman did respond. She noted that big projects such as this — especially ones involving Nevada Department of Transportation-maintained routes, which the parkway in part is — often require overnight work.

She said no special permission was required for the nighttime work, but the contractor is required to notify the city of the hours it plans to work, which the contractor did.

In this instance, the noise was caused by crews installing a guardrail on the south side of the parkway, Ackerman said. “Due to safety issues with high traffic volume on the Summerlin Parkway, this work had to be done during the overnight hours,” she wrote in an e-mail.

The installation was noisier than expected because of the nature of the soil in that area, Ackerman said.

And finally, a concession and a small ray of hope:

“While there is no good time during the overnight hours to do construction work, in hindsight, it would have been better if this work could have been done around 9 to 11 p.m.,” she wrote.

What’s more, the project’s nighttime work is almost all done. And “if it possible, we will try to schedule the work earlier in the evening before people are sleeping.”

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