, Salem, MA

Local News

July 27, 2007

Route 128 neighbors making noise for some peace and quiet


It didn't do much, he said. The neighbors never come to visit. His kids, before they left home, mostly stayed inside. One particular annoyance is new rumble strips along the highway meant to wake up drowsy drivers.

"It's ear-piercing," said another resident, George Cunha. As if the roar of the traffic coming and going isn't bad enough, he said. The unearthly whine of the rumble strips can keep him awake in the middle of the night. To make his point, Cunha has recorded the sounds from the highway, and he played them at the meeting. "Wait for the motorcycle," he advised as a roar louder than the rest of the traffic faded in and then faded out.

Kate Ahearn, who lives in the Arboretum, hears the noise on her deck and in her condo. "I call 911 all the time. You hear the screech. And then the crunch." A specific driver makes himself heard regularly, around 10:30, she said.

"Oh," Barr said with a nod, "with the music."

Strength in numbers

Unhappy neighbors have mounted efforts in the past to have someone | the federal government, the state or the city | erect a noise barrier. Cunha carries yellowed copies of The Salem Evening News from nearly 20 years ago documenting his campaign then. Others recalled more recent efforts -- each hit a metaphorical brick wall.

For her part, Barr has been carefully marshaling this effort, beginning more than a year ago. She's visited the appropriate government officials and conferred with top managers at MassHighway. A nurse, her concerns include the health effects of all the pollution accompanying the noise and floating unimpeded into her neighborhood.

Outlining the obstacles the group faces, Barr explained that federal dollars are vital in erecting a barrier -- estimated to cost $4 million per mile. The problem here is that the federal highway, I-95, leaves Route 128 and heads north just before it gets to the neighborhood.

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