Construction workers on Knox Road start their day before the sun shines. By early morning, University of Maryland students such as Colette Kilfoil hear the sounds of drilling, clanking and banging echo through the street.
Kilfoil, a sophomore management major, lives on Terrapin Row’s fifth floor and had to buy a noise machine to help her sleep. Ongoing construction projects just adjacent to the University of Maryland’s campus have brought noise complaints to off-campus development.
Several major private construction projects with hundreds of student-focused apartments on Knox Road are well underway, sparking frustration among students who are housed adjacent to the ongoing construction. Construction along the road will likely last months, if not years — the delivery date for a new apartment complex in development at the intersection of Knox Road and Route 1 is in 2024.
Two other apartments — Hub College Park and Aspen Heights, located close to South Campus Commons and Terrapin Row, are new student housing complexes expected to be move-in ready by fall 2023.
“It’s just not ideal,” Kilfoil said. “I’m [paying] so much to live here, and I wasn’t aware that I was going to even be possibly living next to construction.”
Despite the new developments offering various amenities – such as gyms, swimming pools, first-floor retail and entertainment areas – off-campus students say construction noise is a nuisance.
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“When I’m woken up to the noise of the construction, I want to bash my head into the wall,” Meg Kuchma, a junior kinesiology major, said.
Long-term construction has physical and harmful effects, such as hearing loss, irritation and additional stress on people, Naomi Sachs, an assistant professor in the plant science and landscape architecture department, said.
“[Noise] distracts us and makes it … hard to concentrate,” Sachs said. “It can be mentally and emotionally taxing as well”.
Chronic noise can affect people’s sleep or ability to do work, said Eric Hoover, an assistant professor in the hearing and speech sciences department. Noise next to student living is likely increasing the stress of the students.
Residents at Terrapin Row have called the leasing office to make noise complaints about the construction, senior marketing major Jamie Nace said. One of the common complaints is that construction starts before 9 a.m.
“This is the time where people should be enjoying their rest, enjoying peace and quiet,” Nace said. “I would appreciate if they could be more respectful.”
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Kilfoil would like it if the bulk of construction could occur during the summer when fewer students are on and around the campus.
The city’s noise control board schedules hearings when two or more city residents complain because of a possible violation to the College Park noise ordinance or a specific incident, Ryna Quinones, College Park’s communications and events manager, wrote in an email. The last noise concerns meeting occurred in October 2018.
Construction noise is exempt from the 65 decibel limit from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and holidays.
The sound level has to be above 85 decibels for people to be concerned about hearing loss, Hoover said. But people rate construction that has more low frequencies, like a truck driving by or rumbling, to be more annoying.
City and county officials declined to comment when asked about the timeline of construction and if they knew the construction would cause noise disturbances.