OPEN LETTER to DOT Project Manager: Noise pollution leads to hearing loss, heart disease, high blood pressure, low birth rates, elevated levels of stress, interrupted sleep, and more.

Open letter to Neil Patel, DOT project manager for DOT Project 56-316 from Tammi Montier, Riverside

Dear Mr. Patel,

I write to you today regarding project 0056-0316, intended to repair 22 bridges and associated pavement along I-95 between exits two and six.

My understanding is that the DOT will neither acknowledge nor take into consideration the pre-existing and increasingly loud highway noise pollution in Riverside. The unacceptable level of noise has been made even worse from the DOT’s recent cutting down of trees, in some cases, sans municipality permission. Therefore, with the upcoming, long-term construction project, we will be faced with additional noise pollution on top of that which we already experience. While I appreciate that the repair work will be done, I am concerned about the neglect of addressing noise pollution with this project.

Numerous studies* have shown that noise pollution is responsible for physical and mental problems in humans and non-humans. People who live, work, and go to school in areas with heightened levels of noise can experience hearing loss, heart disease, high blood pressure, low birth rates, elevated levels of stress, interrupted sleep, difficulty focusing, etc.

In rare cases, people can even develop a condition called Hyperacusis, a condition that renders them incapable of tolerating any sound whatsoever.

One such study, conducted in 1975, measured the differences in student performance at P.S. 98 at the northern tip of Manhattan (Inwood). One side of the school was within 225 feet of railroad tracks while the other side of the school was quiet and conducive to learning. The study revealed that students on the noisy side of the school were 11 months’ behind their peers on the other side of the school. The study concluded that noise abatement measures needed to be taken to equalize student learning and performance. Subsequently, rubber pads and ties were installed on the train tracks, and classroom ceilings were covered with sound-deadening acoustic tiles. The result being that students on both sides of the school began to perform equally. Another study conducted by the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse in Montpelier, VT, concluded that noise pollution contributes to ecological desecration, and interferes with mating calls and reproductive success of many species of animals, with some even being rendered extinct. Whether it be natural habitats of birds in the forest or marine life, all creatures can experience pain and suffering from excessive noise.

Additionally, there are several tools* available to measure sound and its impact on the environment. One such tool, the Harmonica Index, is a simple graph that presents the severity of sound disturbances. Other tools such as
Sonopodes and Medusas can also be used to measure the impact of sound on human and non-human life. I wonder if you have leveraged any of these – or other – tools to learn how the upcoming project will impact additional noise levels?

Given the lengthy term of this project, I would urge you to gather the necessary data to determine the severity of additional noise pollution associated with the project, and to take the required steps to implement noise abatement measures such as quiet pavement, sound barriers and minimal, if any, cutting down of trees.

Over the past three years, DOT maintenance choices have degraded the quality of life in Riverside. Our residential neighborhood is noisier, the air is less clean, and the loss of trees, with no plan to replant has contributed to the predicted next public health crisis, NOISE POLLUTION!

Can you please advise me what efforts you plan to make to address the concerns outlined in this letter?

*The New Yorker, May 13, 2019, “Is Noise Pollution The Next Big Public Health Crisis?”

Tammi Montier, Riverside

See also:

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