Calgary

1 day down, 4 years to go: Gravel crushing near Calgary homes brings noise, dust

Contractors have started crushing gravel at a new pit set up a short distance away from people's homes in west Calgary. The gravel pit, which is located near the community of West Springs, is being tapped to provide material for the Southwest Ring Road several kilometres away.

Province says it wants to hear from people if 'reasonable threshold' is exceeded during ring road work

Crushing is now underway at a gravel pit in west Calgary, with the material to be used on the Southwest Calgary Ring Road project. (Scott Dippel/CBC)

Contractors have started crushing gravel at a new gravel pit that's been set up a short distance away from people's homes in west Calgary.

The gravel pit, which is located near the community of West Springs, is being tapped to provide material for the southwest ring road several kilometres away.

While construction has been underway for a few months, that was site preparation work. On Monday, gravel crushing operations officially got underway.

Kummy Tharmalingam, who lives in a house that backs onto the pit, said she's already detected a change.

Kummy Tharmalingam with her daughter Sameena Tharmalingam, says the level of dust and noise has increased. (Scott Dippel/CBC)

"More noise, more dust. Even last night, it was quite windy. I could see the dust from my patio door, just flying with the wind so it has been much more noticeable."

Berm mitigates but can't stop noise

A four-metre high berm has been built behind her house, which runs the length of the pit. 

But that's no match for the noise coming from the gravel-crushing operation or the heavy equipment that can be heard working away from her backyard.

She'd like to see more trees planted along the berm and more watering of the site to help keep down the dust.

The gravel pit will be in operation 12 hours a day, seven days a week — for the next four years. 

A four-metre high berm has been built behind homes, which runs the length of the pit. (Scott Dippel/CBC)

The provincial government has installed air and noise monitoring stations beside the gravel pit.

Adam Johnson, with the department of transportation, said that it wants to hear from people if they have concerns about provincial guidelines being exceeded at the site.

Noise limit equal to a vacuum cleaner

"We've set a threshold of about 65 decibels, which is approximately the same value as a vacuum cleaner," said Johnson. "There's certainly some noise involved but we've set what we believe to be a reasonable threshold."

A short distance away from the gravel pit, Lenore Kay was doing some garden work at her house. She said she's been in touch with the contractor and the government since the project started earlier this year.

She points out that one of the monitoring stations has been installed upwind of the gravel pit. 

Kay is also unhappy that she's been told that noise monitoring will be based on average noise from 24 hours of data per day, meaning the non-operating hours overnight will bring down the average daily noise levels.

"We're not happy." Kay said she emailed the minister of infrastructure and said how disappointed she is with the response. 

Big trucks still beeping

The company building the ring road, KGL Constructors, said in a recent advisory that heavy equipment will be fitted with "alternatives to traditional back-up alarms."

However, on Monday at the site, the well-known loud beeping sound made by trucks backing up could clearly be heard at homes near the gravel pit.

The provincial government is planning to hold a public meeting later this month as part of its public consultation process.

The dates and locations have not yet been finalized.

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