LETTER: I-95 State DOT Project for Greenwich Needs a Noise Study

Open letter to DOT project manager Neil Patel and consultant from GM2 Tony Margiotta from Patty Roberts, Greenwich

In 1990, the World Health Organization summarized the harmful impacts of noise on public health and made recommendations to protect worldwide public health in the Guidelines for Community Noise.  Examples include increased cardiovascular disease, loss of hearing, diabetes as well as reduced cognitive impairment in children.  In 2010, at the request of the European Union, WHO provided more evidence on the negative impact of noise on public health and provided a more detailed recommendation. The European Union has been addressing this issue since then– such as noise mapping major cities to allow more refined regulation and provide a baseline, quieter pavement, and the use of noise radar hooked to police cameras to fine loud vehicles. Sadly, the United States and Connecticut have not addressed the issues systematically.

Noise pollution is a real problem, and it is getting worse in Riverside!

In the last 3 years, air traffic patterns have changed over Westchester Airport, Metro North has adopted a clear-cut approach to tree removal by their train tracks and DOT has systematically been cutting down the trees and bushes along 95. Each act taken on its own is disturbing, but in aggregate it flies in the face of Sec 22a-67 which states:

State policy regarding noise. (a) The legislature finds and declares that: (1) Excessive noise is a serious hazard to the health, welfare and quality of life of the citizens of the state of Connecticut; (2) exposure to certain levels of noise can result in physiological, psychological and economic damage; (3) a substantial body of science and technology exists by which excessive noise may be substantially abated; (4) the primary responsibility for control of noise rests with the state and the political subdivisions thereof; (5) each person has a right to an environment free from the noise that may jeopardize his health, safety, or welfare.

January 21st, the DOT unveiled their program to repair the road surfaces and the 22 bridges between Exit 3 and exit 6.  The plan includes an extension of the off-ramp along 95 into Exit 3 to address the congestion that occurs every day.  But, to those that listened to the webinar, there was dismay that there will be no effort to reduce the noise that is emanating from 1-95. In addition, The decision to clear trees that are close to the highway or road, estimated to be the equivalent of 2 acres will only exacerbate the noise and air pollution issue the town of Greenwich faces.

The DOT should work in conjunction with the Commissioner for the EPA to execute a  noise study immediately within Greenwich along I-95.  Noise Maps must be established to monitor and then mitigate increased noise levels. The Noise Study should utilize similar tools as the Paris study, where MEDUSA monitoring tools could pinpoint what noise was driving the issue.

 Doing nothing is unacceptable!

In addition to the health issues, as outlined by the World Health Organization, noise pollution induces devaluation in house prices which will negatively impact the “Grand List values” within Greenwich, particularly Riverside.

The DOT has many options in its tool kit to address this increase noise issue:

· Regulate the mufflers on motorcycles, fining those motorcycles who exceed certain dB.

· Utilize quiet pavement material to reduce the sound of tire traffic on the pavement.  For example, in The Netherlands, for all main motorways, an anti-noise pavement as porous asphalt is the standard wearing course to be used.

· WHO recommends that the DOT take precautionary measures to favor sustainable soundscapes such as adding berms or sound barriers. As a matter of practice, as sound barriers are replaced, the old ones should be redeployed in new communities.

· Huddart study in 1990, indicated there was a 9-dB reduction with vegetation belts were between 20-30 meters in width.  To effectively reduce noise there have to be multiple rows of evergreen trees and shrubs with few gaps to reduce the noise flowing into residential neighborhoods.

We have time!

DOT working in conjunction with the EPA needs to act quickly and establish a Noise Map for Greenwich, particularly Riverside to assess what changes are needed to State Project Number 56-316 to reduce its negative impact on our town.

So, knowing the negative impact this has on our town, what steps will the DOT take now to dress this noise issue?

Thank You for your consideration
Patty Roberts