Sunset Tunnel work can resume after noise complaints


Work can resume again on the Sunset Tunnel after neighbors and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency resolved noise complaints from residents over the replacement of rail tracks on weekend nights.

The San Francisco Board of Appeals approved 4-0 to uphold the permit with certain conditions agreed upon residents and the SFMTA. The tentative start date is March 21, said SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose.

San Francisco resident Francis Offermann, who lives on Duboce Avenue where construction crews setup for work, filed a noise complaint against Proven Management Inc. on Jan 20 with the Board of Appeals, which halted work for the project during the last weekend of January and for any planned work for February.

A petition signed by at least 40 residents was also submitted along with the noise complaint.

Proven is doing the tunnel work for the SFMTA as part of the Sunset Tunnel Trackway Improvement Project Work to replace rail tracks and wire work along that section of the N-Judah route.

Work started in November and was expected to be completed over 15 weekends within nine months, according to the transit agency. So far crews have only completed only four weekends of work.

Offermann and the SFMTA said Wednesday at a Board of Appeals hearing that residents along Duboce Avenue and the transit agency have come to an agreement on dealing with the backup beeping noise that the construction vehicles make, which Offermann said has left residents with some sleepless nights:

“This isn’t just a nuisance issue were talking about. It interferes with the people’s sleep not for one night but three nights. Friday, Saturday and Sunday you cannot sleep with he existing work conditions.”

Offermann said that the appeal was not to revoke the company’s night noise permit, but to ask for some reasonable accommodations for residents.

The permit allows crews to work from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m and issued by the San Francisco Department of Public Works.

SFMTA’s Director of Capital Programs and Construction Vince Harris said Wednesday that he and Offermann have been working together to come up with solutions and were close to an agreement on Tuesday before the hearing.

The main issue at hand was the sound of construction vehicles backing up toward the homes along Duboce Avenuee making a loud beeping noise at night, said Offermann.

Offermann said he even placed at a meter outside of his to read the decibel levels during construction and said the backup beeping noise was at least emitting 100 dBA of noise, according his complaint.

The transit agency and Offermann agreed that construction crews would use a different type of backup alarm that emits less noise.

If residents still feel that it’s still too loud, then crews discontinue using those beepers and will change to using flagger or spotter to assist with vehicles backing up during the following construction night.

Both parties also agreed upon moving some of gravel work from the side of the portal to the west side.

Harris also said Proven will also make sure they have mufflers on all heavy equipment and delivering gravel at certain times of the day.

There will also be periodic sound level checks in that part of the neighborhood and be made available to the public upon request.

Proven’s permit was also extended to July 31.

The transit agency is still determining a competition date for the Sunset Tunnel project and costs associated to the delays, said Rose.

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay. A San Francisco native, he has spent a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Send tips to or at Twitter @Jerold_Chinn.

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