LETTER: Open Letter to CT DOT I-95 Project Engineer and Response

Open letter from Greg Piccininno, (counter letter to response from Serge Nikulin, Project Engineer, Dept of Transportation)

Dear Mr. Nukulin,

Thank you for your response. I have read the sited legislation regarding federal requirements for Type 1 projects and according to your specs, the reconstruction of I95 in Greenwich and Stamford does not qualify.

However, as a community and as neighbors, I have to question why the CT DOT would willfully ignore the needs of the surrounding community. Type 1 projects also don’t prohibit the CT DOT from making quality of life improvements. Remember, at the end of the day, the CT government and the DOT are both employees and residents of the community.

I have researched asphalt types and while it would take a graduate degree to fully understand all the properties of every type, I did find some information on low noise asphalt that the CT DOT should be considering. I also noticed in the CT DOT Annual Pavement Report (CTDAP) that CT uses RAS (use old roofing shingles) which is commendable from an environmental aspect but wouldn’t using RAC-G asphalt (used old tires) be even more environmentally friendly (later I propose using RAC-G as a noise reduction solution) since used tires account for much more waste then roofing shingles?

You are correct in saying some types of low noise asphalt is not suitable for the NE and the noise reduction reduces over time. The research supports that. However, there are alternatives that have been in used in Northern Europe that do withstand the rigors of changing climates and the cold. Counties like Holland and Denmark seem to be using SMA type asphalt for its noise reduction properties and its ability to withstand the cold.
While I have not seen any reports on its use in the US, my superficial research indicates that RAC-G asphalt shares many of the properties of SMA. RAC-G has been used and tested by CalTran for decades (https://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/tires/rac/benefits).

RAC-G also seems to keep its noise reducing properties longer than most other types of noise reducing asphalt (about 7 years). From the CTDAP it seems the state regularly resurface roads every seven years with a thin layer of asphalt which means, using RAC-G and standard maintenance cycle in CT, I95 would enjoy noise reduction on a continuous basis plus with little or no increase in maintenance costs (I assume RAS and RAC-G have similar prices).

From the papers I read there are also benefits from RAC-G
1) RAC-G is cheaper (30% at least vs traditional materials).
2) Has been shown to last up to 50% longer than traditional asphalt and is suitable to our climate.
3) Reduces noise by 3 decibels while is the industry standard and effectively
doubles the distance between the listener and the source of the noise.
4) RAC-G noise reduction degrades slower than noise reducing/
I did not find any studies comparing RAS and RAC-G, nor did I find any reports that suggest RAS has any noise reduction properties. Thus, I do not understand why the CT DOT would not look at a cost-effective solution that would also satisfy the community’s request and be GREEN to boot.

Greg Piccininno


Letter from Serge Nikulin, Dept of Transportation Project Engineer, Jan 26, 2021

Good afternoon Greg Piccininno,

Thank you for your comments.

In the early stages of the design process the Department evaluates the project scope to determine if the project qualifies as a Type 1 project as defined by 23 CFR 772 which would require a noise analysis to determine if noise walls are warranted. A Type 1 project is defined as one of the following:
• Construction of a new highway on new location
• Substantial horizontal or vertical alteration to an existing highway (that meets certain conditions)
• The addition of through-traffic lane(s)
• The addition of auxiliary lanes
• The addition or relocation of interchange lanes or ramps
• Restriping of existing pavement for the purpose of adding a through-traffic
• The addition or substantial alteration of a weigh station, rest stop, ride share lot, or toll plaza

Since this project scope didn’t meet any Type 1 project requirements, a noise analysis was not performed and no new noise walls are proposed.

Your noise wall request will be forwarded to our Office of Environmental Planning to be kept on file in the event that a Type 1 project is initiated on this stretch of I-95.

The Mianus Bridge will undergo minor rehab work which will include milling and overlay of the pavement, repairs to the bridge piers (over land and water) and other minor repairs. There are no major rehabs
proposed on the other bridges within the limits of this project.

New pavement and repairs to the underlying concrete joints that exhibit reflective cracking on the pavement surface will reduce current tire noise. Unfortunately, a specific pavement composition to reduce tire noise is not proposed under this project. Pavements that reduce noise typically don’t hold up well in northern climates that deal with freeze/thaw cycles.

Improvements to reduce congestion on local streets and truck traffic are not included with this project. The main purpose of this project is to rehab the pavement on I-95 to extend its service life.

Thank you,
Serge Nikulin
Project Engineer