Sound controls

Sound study approved for residents near I-75

A group of Troy residents are asking for a sound survey to be done on their side of Interstate 75 following roadworks they say caused heavy traffic noise around their homes.

A sound barrier was built on the south side of I-75, and residents on the north side say it should have been built on their side as well. They say the south wall bounces traffic noise towards them.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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TROY – A group of Troy residents who live in the Square Lake and Crooks roads area have successfully secured money to be set aside for a traffic noise sound study resulting from recent work on a stretch next to Interstate 75.

The work is part of a multi-year project which consists of repairing portions of the motorway section by section. The part near Square Lake and Crooks was completed last year, and residents say it is causing unacceptable noise in their neighborhood.

“The group formed in August and they went to city council saying it was not acceptable,” said Gail Morrell, one of the petition leaders. “The city council (of Troy) listened to them but did not really respond very favorably. They then gained momentum by contacting state officials. Representatives received $ 300,000 to do another solid study this year. It’s a federal highway so it can take years. (Michigan Department of Transportation) claims they had meetings ahead of time and asked where we were at their preliminary meeting. The meeting was in Madison Heights, and that was years ago, since the renovation had been going on for five or six years.

Morrell and his fellow petitioners said that not only is noise a nuisance on the north side of the freeway, but that a sound path built to protect residents on the south side from such noise actually increases noise to the north by causing the noise to bounce back towards them.

“I-75 is pretty close to Square Lake Road in that space, and the houses are right there along that space,” Morrell said. “The MDOT says there is an equation that there must be that many houses by that many feet to require a sound barrier. We needed two houses to demand something. There’s a sound barrier along the south side of I-75, but these people say it’s not high enough, and we think the sound is bouncing off that wall towards us, increasing the noise even more. his.

Morrell said the noise not only affects the quality of life in the area, but it has also had a negative effect on home prices.

“There has been no word on when this future sound study will be done. The $ 300,000 has been budgeted for 2022, ”Morrell said. “It has an impact on home sales. … It is impossible to use our terraces, patios, backyards, or even to walk in the neighborhood. We cannot sleep at night in our own homes. … Several people have put their houses up for sale there. I’ve lived in the area for 34 years and the sound doesn’t even compare to what it used to be.

Drew Buckner, a transportation services manager at MDOT, said his department has made an effort to connect with residents throughout the I-75 work at all points of the multi-stage project.

“Many studies were carried out during the development process of the project. I don’t think any particular side was favored. Everything was done in the right order, ”he said. “We spoke to them in the fall of 2020 and early 2021. There was a meeting with the state representative (Padma) Kuppa, and we responded to letters and emails, so we do a effort to communicate with the public. “

He said a solid study for the affected area will be coming in 2022, but dates have not yet been set.

“We don’t have dates for which a sound study could be done,” Buckner said. “The state official and state senator managed to secure the $ 300,000 for a solid study, but we don’t know when that might happen or who would be hired to do the study. I can say it will be a collaborative process with MDOT, local leaders and residents.

While the money for the sound study has been allocated, funding for a noise solution is expected to come from the federal government, since I-75 is a federal highway.

“The money was only allocated for one study,” Buckner said. “Because we do not have a publicly funded noise barrier program, all noise barriers we build meet federal standards. If a study found that walls were warranted, it would be up to the state legislature to determine their funding. Because the project has been completed in this area, there is no funding left for this project, so additional funding for this proposed noise barrier will need to be found at the state level.

Ethan Baker, the mayor of Troy, said steps are being taken to put this sound study and any further work in place. He added that such work can be slow and it can often appear to residents of affected areas that nothing is being done.

“The people of the Square Lake area have started to circulate a petition, and everyone in this area knows this is a problem, but a lot of people don’t understand why no one is doing anything about it,” he said. he declared. “A year ago, the city of Troy issued a proclamation to send this petition to government officials. It’s just a slow process so I think a lot of people feel like it’s being ignored. I think MDOT knows how big a problem this is now. “

The fact that some neighborhoods were overheard by the MDOT early in the I-75 process did not help resolve this issue, resulting in those who received little or no response when voicing their concerns later in the process, like those near Square Lake Road, feel ignored.

“As soon as the trees fell and the modernization process started, the noise got louder,” Baker said. “We heard from the residents and the MDOT was moving so fast that they held a few meetings early and managed to add a sound barrier in a few places. Then other groups said it was stronger in their area as well, and they didn’t really get a response from MDOT. He got tangled up in the bureaucratic mud. People wanted Troy city council to do something, but we have no control over this project or land. We also can’t really demand anything from MDOT. He said he spent hours on the phone talking about the issue from a federal perspective.

Baker added that he hopes some good will come out of this situation by showing people that there are flaws in the process of this type of roadworks.

“I don’t think you should ever build a noise barrier on just one side of a freeway when there are residential areas on the other side as well,” he said. “I think future regulations should be put in place with this in mind. Hopefully this could be something good that comes out of it all. “

Morrell said it’s an issue that has negatively impacted her entire neighborhood and that she’s confident the sound study will show action needs to be taken.

“Partly that’s because we didn’t notice early on because the traffic volumes were lower due to COVID. Now that people are back to work, people are realizing it, ”she explained. “Fourteen of us went to find out if people could sense the noise, and a lot of people were like, ‘Yes! Where were you?’ We do not have money. It is all of us who are willing to try to improve things. A man in our group was in the auto industry, and he did his own sound study, and he says sound is beyond federal guidelines.

Morrell added that if anyone in the area would like to get involved with the petition, they can contact them at [email protected]

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