Partnership apologizes for unexpected noise

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - LOT admitted the construction noise Feb. 5 and 6 was the worst on record since construction began more than 120 days ago. When the Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership project was approved in February 2013, it was with the understanding that certain aspects of the construction would be loud and potentially disruptive to neighbors.

In particular, LOT representatives said they expected significant noise issues when pulling a pipeline under the Willamette River, and that they would consider mitigation methods such as hotel vouchers.

In the months since construction began, a LOT hotline has logged dozens of complaints about noise and vibrations, but Feb. 5-6 saw the worst case yet.

LOT representatives said the noise was the result of sheet piling installation, which is part of a “shoring” method to protect surrounding structures near the excavation site.

“The vibration was most frustrating for people in terms of feeling it, and it was a consistent feeling,” LOT representative Katy Fulton said. “Some of the sheet piling took up to 45 minutes to complete.”

Lorie Griffith, a member of the West Linn Planning Commission who lives across the street from the site, said the noise was “bone-shaking” and “literally unbearable.”

“The noise was so tremendous, it gave me a headache,” Griffith said. “I felt like crying.”

While the vibration didn’t cause any physical damage in Griffith’s home, she said it was significant enough to cause one of her paintings to shift askew.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The sheet piling process that caused extensive noise and vibrations earlier in February is scheduled to return next fall, though LOT said it is looking into alternative methods.

Lake Oswego has operated a water treatment plant at 4260 Kenthorpe Way since 1968. In cooperation with the city of Tigard, Lake Oswego is expanding the plant and running a new pipeline to address the future water needs of both cities. The project is expected to take 28 months.

The plant, which will hold up to 2 million stored gallons of water underground and handle up to 38 million gallons each day, also serves as an emergency backup water supply for West Linn.

Along with a new plant, the project involves the installation of a 4-foot-diameter pipeline from the Clackamas River through West Linn and into Lake Oswego. The pipeline, which will be broken into four construction phases, will extend 1.9 miles in West Linn, crossing though both residential and commercial areas.

In an email alert, LOT said “the intensity of the noise and vibration was not expected,” and Fulton said the partnership is working with its construction contractor to come up with alternative methods in the future.

“We’re trying to avoid a repeat of this,” Fulton said. “We’re working to find other methods for shoring and reducing piles to reduce the noise. The contractor is looking at other methods.”

Fulton said the next sheet piling process at the site is scheduled for the fall, but it could be pushed up earlier depending on construction progress.

LOT reported that vibration monitors Feb. 5 and 6 measured “well below thresholds for residential damage,” but encouraged anyone who experienced home damage to file a claim through the city of Lake Oswego.

Mayor John Kovash addressed the issue at a Feb. 10 city council meeting.

“One of the things we’re working on is to make sure if there are any other such surprises, a process will be in place for more mitigation,” Kovash said. “We will continue talking with LOT and I’m sure they will be talking to citizens.”

Despite her frustrations with the noise, Griffith was impressed with the response from both Lake Oswego and West Linn. A representative from Lake Oswego visited her home and gave her a Starbucks voucher, and City Councilor Jenni Tan called Griffith to ask about the situation.

“They really have tried to address concerns,” Griffith said.

LOT recently completed the first phase of demolition at the construction site, and in the coming weeks will focus on excavating, drilling for new foundations and concrete pouring.

A second tower crane is scheduled for for use with installation at the west end of the site in late February or early March.

“In terms of (noise and vibration) impacts, it should return to normal as far as what people were used to over the last few months,” Fulton said. “There will be some noise and vibration, but we’re not anticipating it being as intrusive as the sheet piling was.”

The next public tour of the LOT site is set for Feb. 27.

For more information about the project, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., call the hotline at 503-697-6502 or visit

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - LOT representative Katy Fulton said neighbors can expect noise and vibration to return to normal levels in the coming weeks.

By Patrick Malee
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