Halted By Noise Complaints, N-Judah Tunnel Upgrades Expected to Resume

Photo: SFMTA

The SFMTA is expected to resume work to upgrade the Sunset Tunnel for the N-Judah after construction was halted by a permit appeal from neighbors who complained about noise. Crews have skipped four weekends of work, adding unknown costs and at least a month of delay to the project.

The N-Judah boarding island on Duboce Avenue at the Sunset Tunnel East Portal, seen here after upgrades in 2012. Photo: Aaron Bialick

The appellants complained that the noise, particularly from backup alarms used on construction vehicles, deprived them of sleep during overnight work. The SFMTA says the work can only be done on weekends, including nights, so as to keep trains moving on weekdays, when ridership on Muni’s busiest line is at its highest.

The issue is expected to be officially resolved at a Board of Appeals hearing today, after which “there will be a ten-day waiting period,” said SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose. “During that time we will be able to develop a schedule to move forward with the work.”

Bud Offermann, who filed the appeal, said neighbors near the Sunset Tunnel’s East Portal at Duboce Park have agreed to the use of a new “broadband” backup alarm, which is quieter for neighbors but still satisfies the safety requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“I think we’re 100 percent,” said Offermann, though he still wants some “work practice changes” to be approved. He said he would have already withdrawn the appeal and cancelled the hearing, but the SFMTA “pissed off so many people, there are a few individuals who want to have their say.”

Originally, the appellants wanted much more than a different alarm sound, including paid-for hotel accommodations or the use of a signal person to substitute for the alarms. The contractor, ProVen, said a signal person would add $25,000 in costs per weekend, according to appeal documents [PDF].

ProVen challenged many of Offermann’s claims. Offermann said he had submitted a petition with 55 signatures from neighbors, but ProVen pointed out that there were actually 45, and that “20 percent of the signatures are from residents that are far outside of the construction zone.” ProVen also said the noise measurements submitted by Offermann took place in “an alcove that will magnify noise readings,” and that his assertion that the noise warranted all workers to wear ear protection “has no validity.”

Offermann said neighbors were satisfied by a demonstration of the new alarms, but that the SFMTA will still consider the first weekend a trial period and could halt work again if appellants aren’t satisfied.

“I think they will be acceptable,” said Offermann. “We all know it’s an important project — it needs to be done. It just need to be done a little quieter.”

The project will replace the worn-out tracks in the Sunset Tunnel, which is expected to allow the N to travel through it faster. Crews will also replace the overhead wires and make seismic and fire safety upgrades to the tunnel.

The tunnel work, done in conjunction with the installation of transit-priority traffic signals at nine intersections along the N’s route, requires 11 weekends of tunnel closures, during which buses are run on the streets as a substitute. In total, the construction requires 15 weekends and was scheduled to wrap in June before work was halted.

The SFMTA hasn’t responded to a request for figures on the expected costs or delays added to the project.

Offermann said the SFMTA had suggested neighbors wear earplugs, which “infuriated a bunch of people.”

“Some people find them uncomfortable, which would be me, and you don’t hear things in your house which might be important — someone breaking in, water overflowing, alarms.”

  • njudah

    It’s amazing how just a handful of jerks can drive up costs and create delays for 10s of 1000s of Muni riders. Bud Offalface needs to drink a big glass of STFU because he is a jerk. The work started last year and he knew the noise issues and yet waited and caused all this trouble. What a douchebag.

  • Bruce

    Bud Awfulman

  • Send Bud the bill for the extra costs.

  • thielges

    “The contractor, ProVen, said a signal person would add $25,000 in costs per weekend…”

    Does anyone want to venture a guess how that $25000 breaks down? Surely it isn’t just wages.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    I’d say it breaks down to about $50/day in cash for the jornalero holding the flag and $24,900 in greed for the contractor.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    Non-snarky reply: according to the document they’d need on signalman per piece of equipment.

  • The residents who delayed the project should pay for the extra cost in additional taxes or fines.

  • Send a marching band & air horns to his home every night until he gives it up.

  • Lars_P

    The problem is not the individual jerks. They will always be among us. It’s the SF system that gives every jerk a veto.

  • Dark Soul

    SF shouldn’t created that much housing , that what happens.

  • p_chazz

    This is Bud Offermann.

    Mr. Offermann has 30 years experience as an IAQ researcher, sick building investigator, mitigation planner, healthy building design consultant, expert witness, technical author, and workshop instructor. He is president of Indoor Environmental Engineering, a San Francisco based IAQ consulting firm.
    As president of Indoor Environmental Engineering, Mr. Offermann directs an interdisciplinary team of environmental scientists, chemists, and mechanical engineers in indoor air quality building investigations and healthy building design projects. Under Mr. Offermann’s supervision IEE has developed both pro-active and reactive IAQ measurement methods and diagnostic protocols. He has been a recipient of State and Federal research grants regarding building air quality and ventilation field studies (e.g. EPA BASE study of IAQ in office buildings and schools), tracer gas techniques,in situ contaminant emission rate measurements, and the development of indoor air quality measurement instrumentation.


  • guest

    doesn’t seem like a jerk to me–asked for them not to play loud beepers all night long when there are quieter options available. seemed to ask nicely before escalating.

  • ¤ Meanwhile an extra month of equipment stored where there’s normally street parking is more proof of the SFMTA’s War On Cars. #VoteYesOnPropL


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