, Newburyport, MA


May 6, 2014

Our view: Highway abutters deserve better treatment

The Interstate 95 bridge project holds many long-term promises for the greater Newburyport area, but in the short term we are seeing serious problems that the public was not prepared for. Now, we are seeing the consequences.

There are two in particular that have been in the news of late, both with similar causes. On the Newburyport side of the bridge, neighbors in the Laurel Road and Pine Hill Road neighborhood have been living with near-constant noise and disruption. Their homes are near the highway, and the noise and vibration caused by work on the Pine Hill Road/Ferry Road bridge has made life miserable for many of them. Work has been ongoing from 7 a.m. on through the wee hours of the morning. Sleep has been impossible for some; others have said their homes have suffered foundation cracks. The work will continue for many weeks, in various stages.

Mayor Donna Holaday held a meeting last week to have the issues vented, and state officials have met with the neighbors. But the problems continue on, and neighbors feel that they are not being heard, and never really have been heard. Months ago they asked that the state erect a sound barrier; that request was denied because it was deemed that the highway noise would not hit the levels required to trigger the need for one.

On the Amesbury side of the river, it’s a more personal matter. It got so bad, the state shut down the entire worksite in order to deal with an inexcusable insult directed at the Taylor family on Main Street.

The Taylor family has a condo that is about 10 feet from the highway right-of-way, and what had for years been a thick stand of trees is now a highway under construction. A massive girder looms directly next to their home. Vehicles, machinery, dirt — they are all virtually in their living room. The work, which starts at 7 a.m. and continues into the night, has made their homelife miserable. Indeed, when a Daily News reporter stopped by during a relative lull to interview the family, he was surprised to see that the glass doors inside the fireplace were shaking. That was nothing compared to other problems the family says it has witnessed.

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