As site work continues on the new Clarke County High School, the realities of heavy construction in close proximity to residences has started to manifest itself, mainly in the form of questions. Visits by a blasting survey company in the Battlefield Estates neighborhood have residents asking questions and wondering exactly what is going on at the construction site.
At Tuesday’s Town Council meeting during the citizens forum, Caroline Brophy, a resident of Battlefield Estates stood before the council to voice concerns over the blasting survey. Mrs Brophy asked the council, “What is the criteria for the blasting survey? When will the blasting start? Will we be notified?” Her questions portrayed a lack of communication between residents and construction crews and she summarized her position stating, “It would appear to me that somebody owes those of us who live there, some notification that this will be taking place.”
CDN visited the site to discuss the situation with construction representatives and spoke with Gordon Williams the project superintendent for Shockey Construction. The work in question revolves around the waterline that is being relocated on the site. Mr Williams said crews encountered a rock seam that requires blasting and described the work as “small shots” because they would only be going down 7 or 8 feet. While Shockey Construction is overseeing the entire project, actual blasting will involve several sub-contractors.
Judy Construction out of Middletown, Va is the subcontractor responsible for site work on the project and will be overseeing the blasting operation. Monte Hiett, Superintendent for Judy Construction said, “We have subbed the blasting out to Winchester Building Supply, they in turn, hire a third party to go in and do a pre-blast survey to protect nearby homeowners.”
Winchester Building Supply hired, Sauls Seismic, Inc. to handle the pre-blast survey. According to company spokesman Craig A. Cole, “County Blasting Regulations require pre-blast surveys to be performed when a structure is within 300 feet of blasting activities. Surveys are only conducted with homeowner’s permission and all surveys conducted by Sauls Seismic, Inc. meet or exceeded Clarke County Blasting Regulations.” He added that, “All pre-blast surveys include handwritten notes and detailed digital photographs of the existing condition of the structure. Sauls Seismic offers both interior and exterior surveys to the homeowner, and the type of survey conducted is based strictly on the homeowner’s desires.”
A total of nine homes have been surveyed for this blasting event.
When asked what recourse homeowners would have if they believed they had incurred damage from the blasts, Monte Hiett of Judy said, “Claims would be handled through Shockey Construction.”
Construction officials believe that blasting operations will begin the week of August 15th. Drilling will commence early in the week with actual blasting to occur towards the end of the week. Residents should be notified two days prior to actual blasting. Shockey officials said that it is the responsibility of the blasting contractor to contact residents prior to blasting, but added that they will only be notified of the day that it will occur, not specific times.