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Neighbors fed up with late-night construction; parish says it can't enforce noise ordinance

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BATON ROUGE - Despite East Baton Rouge Parish having a noise ordinance prohibiting construction work from sunset till 7 a.m., neighbors near Acadian Thruway say constant construction is keeping them up all night.

"It's a loud noise, beep, beep, beep, and it's constant noise," said Edith Brown, a resident on South Eugene Street.

Brown has lived off South Eugene for most of her life. She said the work on the railroad tracks was not announced to the neighbors that live there, and their request to halt construction 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 on Sundays.

James Foreman, 87, said it's been tough to find peace at the place he calls home.

"It's bothersome," Foreman said, motioning to the dust clouding the air. "It's dry now, but we've had since this has taken place, water... and rain almost each day. It's a problem."

Brown and Foreman attended a meeting with the contractors this week, but residents are still unsatisfied. 

Kansas City Southern Rail Company issued the following statement:

"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."

A spokesman for the city-parish issued the following statement to WBRZ:

"I visited the jobsite on South Eugene Street and spoke with the contractors who are working for the railroad company. They tell me that location is a staging area for the Acadian underpass project to elevate the railroad, as part of the I10 widening project. They tell me work will last through January.

It has been our experience concerning noise issues within the railroad right-of-way that City-Parish has very little to no jurisdiction or authority to enforce a noise ordinance against the railroad. With that said, I did express our concern on behalf of the residents who live there, and City-Parish will be following up with DOTD and the railroad about those concerns.

The contractor informed me they had a meeting with the residents last night, and now they are committed to informing the residents prior to doing overnight work during the duration of the project. They said they are committed to limiting overnight work as much as possible, and on other days like game days, but it will continue to occur intermittently throughout the duration of the project."

The parish added that it will also be reaching out to Louisiana DOTD about the situation.

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