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Staff photo by Tim Barber/ An eastbound truck passes over Germantown Road Monday, Apr. 20, 2020, on one of the two bridges intersecting Interstate 24, east of Missionary Ridge.A $32.9-million project to replace the Belvoir Avenue and Germantown Road bridges crossing Interstate 24, is beginning Apr. 20, 2020, with the closure of the Belvoir bridge.

It's just too loud. Nobody can sleep.

That's what Tennessee Department of Transportation officials decided this week regarding nighttime pile driving operations in the bridge work on Interstate 24 over Germantown Road that began on Wednesday.

Originally the work was scheduled to take place at night when traffic volume is lower because Germantown Road must be reduced to one lane in each direction during the work, TDOT spokeswoman Jennifer Flynn said in a statement issued Friday.

On Wednesday evening, Flynn said, the contractor drove a test pile beginning at 10 p.m. and ending by 2 a.m., not including the time it took to set up and break down the equipment.

"After hearing the amount of noise generated from the pile driving operation, we decided to allow the contractor to close lanes on Germantown Road during the day to complete this work," TDOT Region 2 Director Joe Deering said in the statement, noting that coronavirus has lessened daytime traffic.

"Even though traffic volume will be greater during the daytime, it is still down from what it normally is because people are continuing to work from home," Deering said. "This critical work needs to be done, and we believe that it is preferable to delay a driver for a few minutes during the day than to disrupt entire neighborhoods at night while families are trying to sleep."

Pile driving is a very loud operation on its own, but everyone on site realized that this particular location beneath a bridge seemed to intensify the sound from the impact of the pile driving hammer, Flynn said.

Because of the close proximity to residential areas, Flynn said TDOT officials made the decision to allow the contractor to do all future pile driving operations on Germantown Road during the daytime.

TDOT will work with the city of Chattanooga to coordinate signal timing in the area during the work, she said.

Pile driving operations will continue on a regular basis until the end of June, although there will be times when testing, preparation and weather interrupts the activity. Depending on how the pile driving operations progress, intermittent daytime pile driving operations could be possible at this location until the beginning of August.

The work at the interstate overpass at Germantown Road is part of a larger, $32.9 million project to replace that bridge and the one over I-24 near mile marker 183 on Belvoir Avenue, Flynn said. The two projects will be closely coordinated, TDOT officials said.

The bridge replacement project is adjacent to the ongoing $132.6 million interchange improvement project at I-24 and Interstate 75, less than a mile to the east.

The construction manager on the bridge replacement project is Bell & Associates Construction and the design manager is Barge Design Solutions.

For more information on the I-24 bridge replacement project, visit TDOT's project website. Flynn noted the project website also has a process for members of the public to sign up for project updates, including lane closure information.

Contact Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.

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