Construction of the Health, Science, and Technology building, which is near off-campus student housing on Webster and Morton streets. Students living near the construction have shared complaints about the loud noises and early wake-ups. (Jessica Mellon/B&W Staff)

Construction projects cause disruptions for students

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The construction of the Health, Science, and Technology building is one of several projects taking place on Lehigh’s campus right now. While the impact of these campus improvements will have ramifications for years to come, students who are in Bethlehem for the construction are experiencing the growing pains of the additions. 

Nearly a year ago, the formal groundbreaking for the Health, Science, and Technology building occurred — now, the structure stands tall as it prepares to open next fall. Students living off campus on Webster and Morton streets, which are adjacent to the construction, shared complaints.

Julia May, ‘21, lives on Webster Street and has concerns as a result of living next to the construction site. 

“I am getting woken up at 7 a.m. every morning when I don’t need to wake up until around when my classes start,” May said. 

May said her classes begin at 10:45 a.m. and she has no classes on Friday, so the construction starting at 7 a.m. has resulted in her getting less sleep. 

Francesca Knudsen, ‘21, also lives on Webster Street, but this semester is not the first time she has felt the negative impact of Lehigh’s campus improvements.

“That was almost the same thing my sophomore year, being woken up almost every day at 7 a.m. because of the construction,” Knudsen said. “So I feel like I can’t catch a break from everything (with) all the noise.”

Knudsen said she lived in the Pi Beta Phi sorority house the past two years, but her room during sophomore year was located on the side of the house closer to the construction of the Singleton, Hitch, and Maida Houses.

With students taking their classes and completing their academic work in their rooms this fall, for those living so close to the construction, there are fewer opportunities to avoid the noise.

Knudsen said when she participates in her Zoom classes, the construction noise can always be heard in the background when she speaks.

Sara Bakacs, ‘21, another Webster Street resident, said in addition to being woken up early, the presence of the construction vehicles has been an inconvenience.

“It’s bothersome having the trucks and cars pulling in and out of the lot all the time and blocking the road,” Bakacs said.

University Architect Brent Stringfellow said for all projects, there is work done to minimize disruptions.

“Lehigh projects are not to start work until 7 a.m. and generally conclude at 3 to 4 p.m.,” Stringfellow said. “Certain subcontractors will work later or in shifts as we seek to make up time on the schedule.” 

Stringfellow said in Bethlehem, construction is permitted between the hours of 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

With projects in progress and planned, the coronavirus pandemic, which halted construction in Pennsylvania from March 19 to May 1, created additional delays. 

“We are working with the Construction Management teams to adjust our schedules as necessary and to make up time when possible,” Stringfellow said. “We are also assessing our next steps in accordance with the strategic plan while acknowledging the impact of the pandemic on those plans.”

May said she understands construction needs to be done for the future of the university, however, it is frustrating to experience firsthand. 

 

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