By Christie Duffy
Cracks in sidewalks and stairs, dust, noise and rattling homes.
“It wakes children up. They’re actually very scared because the noise is like a big bang,” said Bayonne resident Joanna Raney.
All complaints from residents since the Bayonne Bridge project started. But now there’s a new mayor in town.
“You call me. You elected me to stand up for you. So now you reach out to me and I am gonna do what is right by you. I don’t have to do what is right by the Port Authority,” said Mayor James Davis.
Davis says that could mean summonses in response to noise complaints. Even litigation, if it gets to that point. Right now, he’s implemented twice monthly meetings with the Port Authority. He’s planning a public meeting between the Authority officials and residents. And he no longer wants residents contacting the Port Authority with problems. Instead he’s set up a hotline and email address to take all complaints directly.
“It’s pretty quiet now but when they make that noise forget about it, its like, brrr all day long,” said Martin Miller of Bayonne.
A resident shot a video, documenting the noise from his front stoop. Others have dealt with flooding. In April, the Hennings showing us the aftermath of flooding.
A half a dozen residents gave us tours today. One woman says construction’s vibrations shattered her backyard table. And she says the Port Authority found lead on her pool cover. She’s now worried about the water. Other residents point to sinking driveways and separated sidewalks.
“From the vibration, all this noise and what is going on, I had to take all my stem wear and china out of my china closet, pack it up individually. There it is all on the floor. And then I had to take pictures off my wall,” said Ann.
“See the concrete over there? All that stuff comes right across this house. It’s cement. It gets all over the place. It gets into your lungs,” said Martin Miller of Bayonne.
The Port Authority responded to that complaint today, stating: “The Port Authority has real-time, air quality monitors stationed throughout the construction site and a detailed dust and particulate mitigation plan included in the Bayonne project that exceeds all federal, state and local laws. In addition, air quality is monitored by independent laboratories for compliance.”
What does the new mayor think of the Port Authority’s response?
“You talk to the Port Authority, they tell you, ‘We’re doing everything we can.’ Talk to the people, they say it’s not enough. I stand by the people. This is their property values, this is their life,” Davis said.
“At this point in my life I don’t see why I have to live like this,” said Ann.
The Port Authority sent cleaning crews to clean up flooded basements. They also say they’re assisting to process residents’ insurance claims. They’ve offered residents new windows and hotel stays.
But those we talked to say they won’t be satisfied until their home is made whole.