Roadwork on 25th Ave. rattles residents’nerves

by Thomas K. Pendergast


The theme music for living on 25th Avenue in the Richmond

District could have been sung by Joe Turner or Bill Haley, because

lately there has been a whole lot of shaking, rattling and rolling going on.


A project to replace the main sewer line under 25th Avenue

started out simple enough, with construction only supposed to be

occurring on two blocks at a time. The discovery that all of

the sewer pipes intersecting with that main line also badly needed

replacement, however, was just the first of a series of unpleasant

surprises that turned the project upside down.


Neighbors went on a seven month rollercoaster ride of rumbling

trucks, racing road warriors and rocky roads that only

now seems to be coming to an end.

“They have to use a big bulldozer, front-end loader (to break

up the asphalt and cement) and in your house dust is starting to

come off shelves. That really rattled a lot of people,” said Philip

Williams, who lives on 25th

Avenue. He said the temporary blacktop used during construction was

very rough and bumpy. “So, what you had was cars

coming over and hitting this bumpy blacktop construction

site, and our houses would start shaking even more than they did

before,” he said.


Williams claims the shaking has caused him to have to replace

some water pipes in his house. “I never had plumbing prob-

lems until this December. A day before Christmas, my upstairs

sink broke. The pipe in the wall broke, cracked,” he said. “So, I

had to fix that. Evidently the pipe had been leaking for a

while and so it created problems in the walls. I had to take out the

whole wall and redo it. “When I was just about finished

with that, the flat downstairs … that pipe broke, the one

going into the wall. I’ve lived in this building since 1983, and

never had a problem, but now all of a sudden when the construction

was going on in front of my house both pipes broke,” Williams said.


He listed a few more complaints – from the dust and the noise, and cement trucks

lining up all along the street, slowing down traffic, to container trucks

rumbling down the street at 4 a.m. to get debris containers in

place before construction crews arrived. He says he has gotten so

used to the sound of trucks outside his window that he can tell

what kind of truck it is just from the sound it makes rolling down

the street.


Liz Tarchi has lived on 25th Avenue for more than 30 years.

“I think the workers are trying to be respectful. It has been

disruptive. Some of our neighbors said they got notice. I don’t

remember getting a specific notice other than seeing signs stating

that there would be some construction,” Tarchi said. “And

then it seems like everything started going crazy. It’s been

very, very noisy. I’m sympathetic to the fact that the work needs

to be done, but I don’t feel there was ample notice and it appears

that it wasn’t until we started addressing concerns, i.e., complaining,

that the second phase has suddenly begun again. There

was this lapse of time where we’re like, ‘what’s happening?’ Nothing’s happening.”


She also noticed the vibrations moved objects in an unusual

way, more akin to a poltergeist than a construction project.

“I’d come home and there were objects, not only in the

front of our house but in the sun room, in the rear, which had

moved. … We didn’t have objects fall, I won’t exaggerate, but

they were literally moving on their bookshelves.”


Grace Moore, a public information officer for the SF

Department of Public Works (DPW), said she understands and

is sympathetic to residents’ frustrations, but the project was perhaps

a little cursed from the start. Not only did they have to replace

far more sewer lines than expected, but the recent stormy

weather also delayed the construction schedule. Plus, workers

discovered that Comcast laid out its cable lines more shallow in

the ground than expected, causing city workers to slow down so

they wouldn’t damage any of Comcast’s infrastructure.

“Because of the additional work that came up and because

of the Comcast utility conflict, they had to work around them,”

Moore said. “Comcast came out … they almost had to work by

hand digging out around their facilities. That took a long time.”


Moore said DPW is now planning to have everything finished

by the end of March. But Marco Thiele, who also

lives on 25th Avenue, said the situation has motivated him to

form a neighborhood group to get changes to the traffic flow

that he thinks have long been needed.

“The real issue with the construction was that it was done in

two parts and they didn’t seem to be coordinated. So, they did the

sewage but they didn’t repave right away … that really made

the problem,” Thiele said. “The debris, and really the vibrations

that you get through trucks, Muni and cars driving over this

really rough pavement; we just felt it in the house.


“The uneven pavement combined with really heavy traffic

made the life quality terrible for basically six months. And the

house was shaking. In fact, we think we have structural damage,”

he said. “We can’t go on like this. … Obviously, the construction

will be done at some point but the issues with excessive

traffic and issues with safety on 25th will remain,” he said.


Thiele is organizing a community meeting for April 3, at

750 25th Ave., starting at 6 p.m., to “set a vision of what they

would like 25th Avenue to look like in the future” and what nearterm

traffic-calming goals and improved street lighting can be attained.

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