An overnight construction project is keeping East Lyme residents awake, and town officials are frustrated they weren’t notified of the project in advance.
Amtrak is replacing concrete ties on its tracks along the Northeast corridor, which stretches from Boston to Washington, D.C., and right now the work is happening in the Crescent Beach area of Niantic.
It’s been ongoing for a couple weeks now, and Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole admits that it’s a noisy project. The problem is that Amtrak didn’t tell anyone in town before crews came in with heavy equipment.
Niantic residents say they’re upset and wish they’d had time to make other sleeping arrangements.
“I think they should have just gave a heads up on when they were going to do this so we had a choice to either go to a hotel or find a place to sleep, because nobody in the neighborhood’s getting sleep anymore,” said Ron Staskeluna, who lives nearby on Terrace Avenue.
Cole said the work will make its way east along the shoreline and will wrap up in November. They’re replacing millions of ties one section at a time. This stage of the project will finish up Tuesday night, but crews will head back to Niantic in October to do the same thing on a second track.
East Lyme First Selectman Paul Formica said he contacted Amtrak asking why the railroad did not follow protocal and let him know before beginning construction.
Cole said Amtrak is accepting responsibility for its slipup and that the railroad’s engineering department is aware of the need to notify elected officials before beginning construction.
“We generally, by practice, do notify the towns and cities that are affected by our work in long-term and short-term projects. That being said, we didn’t do that this time,” said Cole. “There really isn’t any good explanation other than we didn’t and we should have.”
Cole said the railroad has made sure to notify the officials in Watertown, where the next stage of construction will take place.
The noisy project has left some residents wondering why the work is taking place at night instead of during the day, when it would create less of a disturbance in the neighborhood.
Cole said he sympathizes with residents but that night work is Amtrak’s only option. He said service to both tracks needs to be shut down while the construction is taking place, and in order to keep trains running on a regular schedule, crews must work after hours.
“If we could do all the work during the day and not interrupt people’s sleep, we would,” said Cole.