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Donaldsonville council limits loud pile-driving work on weekends after 2 On Your Side report

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UPDATE: Hours after the 2 On Your Side report, the city of Donaldsonville proposed an emergency ordinance restricting the pile-driving work to weekdays only. The council passed the ordinance Tuesday evening.

The council is also calling for a community meeting Dec. 18 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. Attendees will include the Fresh Water District, the sheriff’s office and the contractor.

Read the original story below:


DONALDSONVILLE - The loud sounds and constant vibration coming from a construction project in Ascension Parish is disrupting the lives of people living in the area. While they agree the project is necessary, they feel as if they were sold a different plan and now their lives are interrupted for the foreseeable future.


There is a lot of rich history in the City of Donaldsonville, old homes and buildings predate the Civil War. Jim Blanchard moved into and restored one of those homes about a year and a half ago. Before he moved in, he was aware of the Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District pump station project, but he was not aware of the construction that would be happening right behind his house.

"Nothing was ever said about right behind this house that I'm buying," Blanchard said.

Inside of the historic property is Blanchard's home, studio and gallery. He's an architectural archival artist, researcher and historian. Blanchard's work is incredibly detailed and his steady hand is an asset. His work is now disturbed.

"All of the sudden, construction starts behind my house with pile driving and the house begins to shake and vibrate," he said.

Blanchard's world has literally been rocking and shaking for months.

"The noise is outrageous - it's unbearable," he said.

The work starts between seven and eight in the morning and goes until five in the evening, sometimes six days a week. Blanchard is unable to work while the construction is ongoing because his workstation vibrates from the constant pile driving. Sometimes he wakes up long before the sun to get in a few hours of work before the vibration starts.

"I can't work here," he said.

A few hundred feet away the Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District is building the new pump station in Donaldsonville. The $96 million project will help combat saltwater intrusion along the coast and provide fresh drinking water to over 300,000 people in Assumption, Ascension, Lafourche, and Terrebonne parishes.

Blanchard has written emails to the Fresh Water District explaining about the issues he's experienced at his home. They include water and gas pipes rattling under his house, his gas stove leaking, his glass shower door exploding into a "million pieces" and dust everywhere.

"They denied it until they walked in the house and went, 'oh my God, your house is shaking!'" Blanchard recalled.

Even with that revelation, he says not much has changed and the Fresh Water District hasn't done much to help.

His neighbor, John Beck, has an old house too. Beck says the bricks on his property are shifting, cracks are forming in the house and the noise is something he's never head before.

"It's unbearable, it takes a toll on you," Beck said.

Beck has recorded the decibel levels several times while crews are working and given the numbers to the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office. So far, those numbers do not exceed the threshold.

The Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District says vibrations due to construction activities are monitored via site instrumentation. Allowable vibration standards have been established by the US Army Corps of Engineers and a working procedure is in place should these tolerances be exceeded. To date, BLFWD has not been made aware of any decibel readings that exceed construction activities within the City of Donaldsonville.

"I was speaking with a site engineer, and he said, 'Yeah, I don't know how you all live like this,' and that's when it really set me off," Beck said.

The concern is so great for Beck, he sent out a survey to his neighbors and got several responses. People are concerned about the noise and how it disrupts their daily activities. Things are shifting in their house and many of them have property damage.

"People have gas leaks, sewer leaks," Beck said.

The bricks in Beck's backyard rattle. One of his neighbors says the noise is so bad they moved to New Hampshire. There are others who have told 2 On Your Side that they have cracks in their fireplace, cracks in their pools and dust everywhere. The vibration is making some people ill.

"You just start feeling sick, like your insides want to come out," Blanchard said.

There are other people like Blanchard who work from home. They can't imagine putting up with the noise for much longer, let alone the duration of the project which was estimated to last two years. At least one person in the area works nights and their sleep has been drastically impeded.

"It's not a place I can live and work," Blanchard said.

The BLFWD says it's been made aware of concerns over noise and vibrations. The concerns have been conveyed to the contractor and discussed.

When asked how long pile driving will continue, BLFWD says all 60' piles are 95% complete and the final 5% are planned to be completed in early 2024. The 45' piles are planned to start in the near future but no date has been established.

The BLFWD says along with consultants it will continue to monitor and respond to concerns related to the project. The reason Blanchard and Beck spoke with 2 On Your Side is because they say their concerns have not been addressed and they are unsure what the process is moving forward as it relates to the condition of their homes.


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