Jan. 11: Hear that clanging? It's bridge pile driving

  • Article by: Kevin Giles
  • Star Tribune
  • January 11, 2014 - 2:00 PM

Pile driving on the St. Croix River, silenced because of cold weather, soon will resume in a cadence of pounding that will continue into May.

Crews will drive 875 beams into the ground on the Minnesota side of the river to support piers and abutments for a new St. Croix River bridge. Ten piers in the river were completed in December.

“Think how much worse it would be with the windows open,” said Mary McComber, mayor of Oak Park Heights, who lives in a neighborhood a few hundred yards from where the clanging will take place.

Still, she said, pile driving has not generated the level of community reaction heard months ago when ground vibrations from earthmoving equipment shook houses.

“There were a lot of vibrations all at the same time,” McComber said.

At a recent City Council meeting, she said vibrations were bad enough that one day she received five phone calls from residents before 9 a.m. “It would be nice to have a little forewarning that it was coming,” she said.

Contractors suspended pile driving and related construction activity during the recent spell of arctic weather. The construction site, within a few hundred yards of Oak Park Heights neighborhoods on either side of Hwy. 36, will see continuing work through the winter, said project manager Jon Chiglo of the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT).

“We require the contractor to drive pilings through the winter to try to mitigate some of the impacts for noise that people might encounter if it was done during the summer,” he told the Washington County Board recently. “You’ll hear pile driving, you’ll see foundations being poured, you’ll see piers being constructed on the Minnesota approach.”

To build the seven land piers that will support the highway leading onto the four-lane bridge, workers will drive H-shaped beams from 25 to 105 feet into the bedrock. Each of the 23 footings will have 20 to 50 beams. The beams will total 37,855 feet in length.

Pounding will occur between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday for the next five months.

Significant reconstruction continues in Oak Park Heights, where an abandoned neighborhood and thousands of trees were removed last summer and endless tons of earth were scooped away for the bridge approach and piers that will support it.

Chiglo said that any residents who have concerns about vibrations or pile driving should call the project hot line at 1-855-462-7649. MnDOT also has a project office in Stillwater at 1862 Greeley St. S. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. □

Kevin Giles • 651-925-5037

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