NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

April 15, 2014

Family faces danger, misery in shadow of bridge project

Abutters atop bridge project find daily hell from pounding, rattling

AMESBURY — When Scott Taylor moved his family to their Main Street condominium, he was expecting to enjoy an easy-going life by the Merrimack River.

What the Taylors say they have gotten instead is akin to a haunted house.

“There are fog lights that turn midnight into Monday morning,” Taylor said. “There are vibrations that make all the pictures crooked, daily. Many days we have to scream at each other to hear what the other person is saying. I don’t want to say we live through it — we suffer through it.”

The Taylors live in the corner unit of a four-unit residential complex directly adjacent to the John Greenleaf Whittier/I-95 Bridge, which is in the midst of a $292 million reconstruction project. Before the bridge project began, the highway was separated from their home by a buffer of trees and vegetation, a state-owned parcel of land in the highway right-of-way.

But that relative quiet changed quickly. The plans for the project called for clear-cutting the buffer and moving the highway much closer to the condos. Where once there were trees, there is now an active and noisy construction site.

The Main Street staging area for the contractors is directly next to the Taylors’ home. The bridge itself is within a few hundred feet of the Taylors’ property, and the highway will be only 25 feet away when the bridge expansion is complete in 2016. According to Taylor, the daily noise begins around 4:30 a.m. and can continue until 2 a.m.

“Everyone is miserable when we are in the house,” Taylor said. “Tempers are short. The quality of life is zero. Even a simple meal is ruined by the vibrations and noise.”

A father of three girls ­­— ages 8, 5 and 3 — Taylor said the drilling period at the beginning of the construction so far has been the worst experience. It was like his home and cars were being sandblasted every day.

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