Halethorpe MARC Station construction chugging along

The first wintry day of 2012 brought whipping winds down the railroad tracks along Southwestern Boulevard on Jan. 13.

Seemingly unfazed by the morning's chill, a construction crew of about 20 continued their work on a two-year, $21-million project to build a new MARC railroad station.

Construction began in spring 2011, and once the project is completed, it will feature two 700-foot raised platforms that will provide cover for the 2,000 daily commuters as they wait for their train.

At the existing station, only a few partial enclosures protect commuters, who must use a step-stool to board or exit the train, from the elements.

Terry Owens, the chief public information officer for the Maryland Transit Administration, said in an email that the weather has not affected the progress of the construction, which is on schedule to be completed in spring 2013.

Owens wrote that crews are currently constructing high- and low-level platforms and the next phase of construction will consist of building towers.

A commuter on Jan. 13, who identified himself as "Jake," said the construction has had little impact on his commute.

"I've seen the plans for it. They look pretty nice," the Halethorpe resident said, noting he has commuted at the station every day for the past four months. "I hope that it actually works out."

Much of the construction to the new station has occurred overnight and created noise that has disturbed some Halethorpe residents, according to Mike McAuliffe, the president of the Halethorpe Improvement Association.

McAuliffe said only a few residents have expressed noise complaints to him.

"They're working very late at night, which is understandable, because they would want to work (around) the train schedule," McAuliffe said.

"I live probably 300 yards from the construction site, but I sleep like a log so it doesn't bother me," he said.

"One of the residents that complained, she said that the noise really isn't any louder than when a train goes by," McAuliffe added. "But she had gotten used to that noise."

McAuliffe agreed with the woman's assessment of the noise level, saying that the construction is likely no louder than a train horn.

Owens has good news for residents frustrated by the construction noise.

"The night time construction is expected to end soon in the closest residential areas," Owens wrote.

He noted that crews are close to completing the installation of sheeting, work which can generate a lot of noise and "This work will be completed by the end of the month or sooner."

Construction crews will continue to work at night after this month, Owens noted, but the work will come on the west side of the site, which is farthest from residents' homes.

"We expect this work will create minimal noise and/or impacts to residents," Owens wrote.

The construction team hired lifelong 21227 resident Darla Belli in November to serve as a community liaison and assist residents with their concerns, Owens wrote.

Area residents can contact Belli at 443-745-8399 or by email at DBelli@mta.maryland.gov.

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