Wooden piles should not be used in urban areas

Dear Editor,

On June 16, 2018 the SN published a letter headlined `Enforcement of law on transporting long piles will affect construction industry’ in which the author complained about the police harassing truckers who were transporting long wooden piles from the interior to the coast.

While there is still a use for wooden piles, in my opinion they should not be used in urban areas.

Wooden piles can be used at locations where there will be no adverse impact to nearby structures. For example; as the foundation for a new pump station located on the foreshore and is a few hundred meters from the nearest building.

Vibration caused by pile driving can damage nearby buildings. Presently, the owners of the “Dutch Bottle” restaurant located on North Road have taken to the courts for restitution for alleged damage caused by the pile driving operation which was undertaken adjacent to the restaurant.

In urban areas a far less intrusive method of placing piles can be seen on Camp St. opposite GRA. This is between Quamina and Middle Streets.

The contractor is using a method that is very common in East Asia and was used at the Marriott hotel. The piles are augured into position. From Camp St you can clearly see the auger as well as the rig that spins the auger. The auger and rig must stand 10m above ground level. I would expect if one were to visit during working hours you might be fortunate enough to witness the auger at work.

I spoke to my attorney who advised that if damage is caused to an adjacent building by vibrations due to pile driving, not only the contractor but the foundation designer as well as the authority who issued building permission can be sued.

Basically the designer should know that vibrations caused by pile driving can cause damage to adjacent buildings and the responsible authority should not have approved the design for the same reason.

My advice to owners of buildings, and in particular concrete buildings adjacent to sites where piles will be driven would be:

l.  Take photographs of your building before the piles are driven.

2.  Speak to your attorney.

3.  Speak to the responsible authority who gave building permission.

This advice is freely given to the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure who are in for a dose of noise and vibrations based on the number of wooden piles being prepared next to their main building on Fort St.

Yours faithfully,

Edward Gonsalves

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