NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

October 15, 2013

Sound barrier fight goes on

State to hold update on bridge project on Oct. 23

(Continued)

“The existing decades-old wall is generally considered to be inadequate — not high enough to block the views and noise of trucks and not long enough to provide protection for all the residences,” Holaday wrote.

For more than a month, the roaring traffic coming from Interstate 95 has become even louder for Laurel Road and Ferry Road residents after the state cleared numerous trees, shrubs and overgrowth that, in concert with a sound barrier wall, buffered them from traffic-generated noise pollution, according to at least one homeowner.

The clearing work was part of the roughly $300 million project to replace the iconic yet aging bridge and rehabilitate eight additional bridges to accommodate the widening of I-95 in Newburyport, Amesbury, and Salisbury. It also includes the replacement or reconstruction of eight nearby bridges along I-95 in Newburyport and Amesbury and widening I-95 between exit 57 in Newburyport and exit 60 in Salisbury.

The project — considered one of the largest highway jobs in the state — will involve demolishing the 58-year-old, six-lane span connecting Amesbury and Newburyport over the Merrimack River and replacing it with an eight-lane bridge with four lanes on each side.

In order to widen the highway, MassDOT is pushing a 40-year-old sound barrier closer to several Laurel Road and Ferry Road homes, much to the displeasure of homeowners who have been lobbying for a new, taller wall since the project was first unveiled.

MassDOT spokesman Michael Verseckes recently reiterated that the state had no plans to upgrade sound barriers, repeating earlier statements that new noise barriers are built as a result of a formula that takes into account the number of homes benefited, the total cost of constructing of noise barrier and the average reduction of noise in the affected area. The rule of thumb to make a noise barrier feasible, reasonable and cost-effective is $8,400 or less per each decibel decrease, per each “benefited receptor” — usually a residence.

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