Days after WBRZ report, powerful elected officials bring neighbors relief from noisy railroad work
BATON ROUGE - Days after the WBRZ Investigative Unit exposed a contractor was in violation of the city-parish's noise ordinance, elected officials are making sure the ordinance is followed.
Despite East Baton Rouge Parish having a noise ordinance on the books prohibiting construction work from happening after sunset and before 7 a.m., homeowners near Acadian Thruway say constant railroad track construction is preventing them from getting any rest.
"It's a loud noise, beep, beep, beep, and it's constant noise," Edith Brown, a resident on South Eugene Street, said this week.
Brown has lived off South Eugene for most of her life. She said the railroad track work happening on her street was not announced to the people that live there, and their request to have work not happen after hours has been ignored.
"They are working seven days a week, all through the day, into the morning," Brown said. "Yesterday, they started at 3:30, 4 a.m., and goes into the evening time."
Noise ordinances on the city-parish's books prevent construction from happening between sunset and 7 a.m. Monday through Saturday. Work is not allowed to happen at all on Sundays.
James Foreman is 87 years old and says it's been tough to find peace at the place he calls home.
"It's bothersome," Foreman said. "It's dry now, but we've had since this has taken place, water... and rain almost each day. It's a problem."
Friday, State Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson and State Senator Cleo Fields walked the area in question and talked to neighbors. The visit came after Fields watched WBRZ.
"When I saw the story that morning, this is my district, and I know the local government doesn't have control over the railroads, DOTD does," Fields said. "I immediately started doing research to give the folks here as much redress as we can. I wanted the secretary to come out here and see it personally."
Secretary Shawn Wilson with DOTD said even though work is being done, parish ordinances still have to be followed.
"They make construction calls on projects, but that does not exonerate or relieve them of meeting obligations of the local ordinance," Wilson said. "Those are passed by the city-parish, and every contractor has to work within that or get a waiver... That's not something the state oversees, and agreements say to follow local agreements."
Kansas City Southern Rail Company issued the following statement this week:
"The work taking place near Eugene Street in Baton Rouge, La. is part of the Acadian Thruway project KCS is doing under an agreement with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LADOTD). Project construction began at the end of July and is expected to be completed in eight months. The project will raise the rail bridge to provide a higher clearance for vehicular traffic to go underneath and provide space for widening Acadian Thruway when needed.
On Sunday, August 28, the KCS contractor was moving equipment and materials into the site for the project. KCS and its contractor will re-engage with the City of Baton Rouge Public Works and LADOTD to discuss requirements related to construction activities on Sundays.
Per the agreement, we have agreed not to conduct work during LSU home game weekends to avoid traffic congestion related to the project. The KCS contractor is also collaborating with neighbors on tree/vegetation clearance and related matters for the benefit of the neighborhood."
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