FOXBORO — With the clock ticking on an ambitious overhaul of the north end zone area at Gillette Stadium, construction planners are switching to a hurry-up offense in hopes of pushing the project across the goal line before time expires.
Looking favorably on calls for a different kind of two-minute drill, selectmen on Tuesday voted unanimously to extend the project’s weekday work hours until 11 p.m.
Under the original work permit, outdoor construction had been permitted Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Town Manager William Keegan suggested that selectmen initially limit the hours extension to weekdays only, with the possibility of including Saturdays following a 30-day evaluation period.
“We want to make sure this is going well,” Keegan said. “If it’s not going well, we don’t want to impact people’s weekends.”
According to Greg Gagnon, a senior project manager with Suffolk Construction, most of the work will involve soil excavation, demolishing existing retaining walls and erecting structural steel.
“The loudest you might hear is a hammer against some steel,” he said, adding that certain activities could be rescheduled for daytime hours to reduce any disturbances.
Gagnon compared noise levels from excavation activities to that of passing trucks “if you lived near the stadium.”
“So, what you’d really hear is just an excavator running, and/or the sound of cranes moving,” he said. “The reality is we’re just lifting steel and putting it into place.”
The $225 million project, slated for completion prior to the 2023 NFL season, is not expected to affect end zone seating this fall.
The project’s most visible improvements include extending glass-enclosed luxury seating linking the east and west Putnam Clubs, installing a new, 370-foot wide curved high-definition video screen and replacing the iconic lighthouse with a 218-foot spire topped by a 360-degree observation deck.
Selectmen did not quiz Gagnon on conditions which prompted the night work request, but expressed confidence that extended work hours would not inconvenience residents living nearby.
Terming the request “very reasonable,” Selectwoman Stephanie McGowan assured residents that town officials had thoroughly vetted the proposal.
“The board, as well as staff, has done a lot of work to make this as easy for the community as possible,” said McGowan, who chaired Tuesday night’s meeting in the absence of colleague Leah Gibson.
Also present at Tuesday night’s meeting, Police Chief Michael Grace said the request had been discussed at length by town department heads, with response protocols already developed to deal with noise complaints.
“They’re forecasting where they are with the project right now and don’t want to get so far behind that they can’t recover,” Grace said. “Obviously the winter in New England imposes some unknowns as well.”
Grace further explained that any complaints fielded by police would be transferred to the inspections department, which maintains direct contact with the project foreman on site.
In addition, he said that Suffolk has pledged to conduct noise testing in the afternoon hours to establish baseline decibel levels which would not be exceeded during the 7 to 11 p.m. construction window.
“Obviously, our building commissioner is well versed on the nature of the work and what’s happening,” Grace said. “We’re pretty confident that we’re going to be able to address anything that impacts residents.”
Public health director Matthew Brennan, who is responsible for monitoring sound levels during concerts and other events, said the state Department of Environmental Protection requires a 10-decibel increase over ambient sound levels to sustain a noise complaint.
“We’ll be in touch with Suffolk if we find there is a violation and we’ll work with them to get it rectified,” Brennan said.
While ultimately supporting the night work request, Selectman Mark Elfman expressed concern about the proximity of residential neighborhoods in the North and Cross street areas, especially if construction continues next fall after leaves drop.
“I want to make sure that if there is a noise complaint that we can shut it down if we need to and have them do other stuff,” Elfman said.
But Keegan said a similar situation had arisen in 2017 with new building construction at Patriot Place, without adverse effect.
“It’s in their best interest, as well as ours, to make sure this happens cooperatively,” Keegan noted. “We’re going to work on this as a team to make sure it happens.”