- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 20, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) — The biggest burst in construction in New York in decades is making it tougher than usual for people in the City that Never Sleeps to get a little peace and quiet.

In many neighborhoods — especially around the World Trade Center site — residents are assaulted by the noise of jackhammers and bulldozers and confronted by orange traffic cones at practically every turn. Rush-hour commuters have to wade through traffic to get around construction equipment on the sidewalks. Trucks clog the narrow streets, their horns blaring. And the digging often starts before the morning cup of coffee is ready.

“After you’ve worked a full week, you really don’t want to wake up at 7 a.m. to the drilling,” said Lisa Hanock-Jasie, who with her husband moved to Lower Manhattan a year ago, attracted by the prices and a building that would take in their 85-pound Belgian shepherd. “We love living down there. We just hope that it ends one day.”

Overall, the city is spending $20 billion on construction, more than it ever has. More than 30 projects are under way or planned in Lower Manhattan alone, including a half-dozen at the trade center site.

To residents who complain they live day and night in a construction zone, officials warn it is going to get worse before it gets better.

“There’s just no peace,” said Jan Larsen, general manager of the 569-room Millennium Hilton hotel, across the street from the trade center site.

He said some guests have complained about the noise at night, while the restaurant inside the hotel has seen a drop-off in business because of the construction that surrounds the hotel. Work on a huge train-and-subway hub project has closed off the hotel’s front entrance.

“It’s all good news, once it gets done,” Mr. Larsen said.

The projects at the trade center site include the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower that will replace the twin towers; three more skyscrapers; a September 11 memorial; the $2.2 billion transit hub; and a performing arts center.

Also, contractors are dismantling a 41-story skyscraper damaged by the terrorist attack, and a $2.4 billion Goldman Sachs Group Inc. headquarters is being built nearby. On Wall Street, city officials are replacing water mains. And in nearby Battery Park City, several residential buildings are going up.

Officials overseeing the construction boom say the heaviest work is still ahead, and they are predicting three to five years of major rebuilding downtown.

Charles Maikish, executive director of the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center, which is coordinating dozens of projects in the area, has been working on maintaining air quality, controlling traffic and keeping the noise down for residents.

He said as many as 8,000 construction workers will eventually be working downtown and will need to take mass transit and not cars. “We’ll tow,” Mr. Maikish warned.

When contractors begin excavating to build three new towers at the trade center site, Mr. Maikish said, “they’re going to be running trucks every three to five minutes for a period of 12 months.”

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