The Austin City Council recently extended through March 2016 the current, temporary rules governing overnight concrete pours on downtown job sites.
The Austin AGC and our industry allies have been very active on this issue since it developed in late 2014. We’re simply trying to ensure that construction companies working downtown are not subject to rules that may sound solid in theory but in practice will create undue restrictions. Without the opportunity to pour concrete in the late evening hours, a number of problems are created for both the industry at work and the people who live, work and socialize downtown. Pouring at night helps:
- Alleviate daytime traffic congestion downtown due to large numbers of large concrete trucks required;
- Keep the public safe from the large number of concrete trucks required;
- Keep workers safe from high daytime temperatures on hot concrete;
- Reduce the construction schedule and negative community impact of construction activity;
- Lower housing costs and increase affordability; and
- Maintain proper concrete and construction engineering quality.
No one wants excessive, annoying noises in any of our neighborhoods. But there has to be a balance between both industry and downtown residents. The AGC believes industry has already made concessions to help move this issue forward. For example, under previous City rules, a company could regularly procure a 72-hour permit to pour concrete between the hours of 7pm and 6am. Now, under the temporary rules, pours are restricted between the hours of 2am and 6pm.
AGC has serious concerns that the council could push the balance even further away from industry by setting unrealistic noise levels for concrete pours such as 75 decibels after 7pm and 65 decibels after 10:30pm. While construction has been the focus of noise ordinance revisions, the reality is that a variety of routine noises downtown far exceed the 75 and 65 decibel levels at night. Some of those noises like trains, music, and motorcycles actually exceed 85 decibels. AGC documented some of these noises over the summer and created a short video:
It’s also important to note that during a recent city council committee meeting, the testimony indicated that the top three noise complaints made by Austinites to the city’s 311 call center had nothing to do with construction. In fact, construction noise complaints have been and continue to represent a very small fraction of the overall complaints. The top noise complaints are about loud music, parties, and dogs.