By Anne Levin
Just before 1 p.m. each weekday, residents of Fitzrandolph Road, Murray Place, Prospect Avenue, Aiken Avenue, and other streets near the site where Princeton University is building a new complex brace themselves for a loud boom that rattles their walls as well as their nerves.
The boom is from blasting to prepare for construction of the University’s four new buildings for environmental studies and the School of Engineering and Applied Science (ES & SEAS). The first blasts began in March; the second phase is currently underway. The third and final segment is scheduled to take place from early October through March 2023, and in an area even closer to the residents’ homes.
Last week, some 30 homeowners met with staff from the University to express their growing concerns about effects of the blasting — cracks in sheetrock, molding, and walls; a sinkhole under a house; and water coming up through the middle of a basement floor. So far, there are nine reports by residents of damage caused by blasting.
KyuJung Whang, the University’s vice president for facilities, told those assembled that blasting is the standard methodology for this type of project. The technology has been used on other campus construction sites, most recently at the site of the East Campus Garage along Faculty Road.
“In all instances, we are following all national and local codes and standards,” he said. “We do want to be good neighbors. We have evaluated several alternatives to blasting, but haven’t found one that would work. But we will continue to seek and evaluate more options.” more