‘My ears are under attack:’ Noise walls are coming for some Cambridge residents, but not others
CAMBRIDGE — Residents who find road noise unbearable will be awarded a $2 million wall to protect them, after their complaints revealed flawed noise studies where Franklin Boulevard was recently extended.
The noise barriers are due to be installed next year on both sides of Franklin between Bloomington Drive and the southern edge of Cambridge
Regional councilors approved the installation after a new study showed that average traffic noise will exceed the 60 decibel threshold in backyards by 2031.
Previous studies conducted in 2007 and 2011 predicted a decrease in road noise. But after neighbors complained, a reassessment found that earlier studies underestimated traffic volumes, mismeasured distances and entered the wrong numbers.
The 60 decibel threshold for installing a sound barrier is roughly equivalent to the sound of two people talking.
The ruling means noise protection for dozens of homes on Draper Court, Yeaman Drive and Bailey Drive.
Michael Eccles, of Bailey Drive, told advisers road noise kept him awake, disrupted his son’s homework and rattled his house.
Sometimes it looks like there’s a jet engine inside his house, he said.
“It affects a lot of activities inside my home that I think a lot of us take for granted,” he said. “These include watching TV or a movie, reading a book, sitting down for a meal with my family, having a conversation in my backyard.”
He begged councilors to provide a noise barrier and they agreed, voting last week to install it.
However, other frustrated residents won’t get immediate help with road noise abatement from McQueen Shaver Boulevard, a new road that opened last October.
A reassessment found that street noise in the yard will remain below the 60 decibel threshold by 2031 for homes adjacent to traffic on Birkinshaw Road and Langlaw Drive.
Residents have been told road noise could possibly exceed 60 decibels if the regional council sends more lorries onto McQueen Shaver as part of a proposal to divert them from Cambridge city centre. A truck hijacking study is underway.
Councilors voted to reconsider noise walls on McQueen Shaver pending the outcome of the truck hijacking study.
“We are responsible for some form of quality of life,” the adviser said. said Helen Jowett. Residents complained to her about road noise and “I’ve heard some really good horror stories”.
Susan Shackleton is delighted that the noise protection can be approved later, but she is disappointed that “it will be another summer or two before anything is resolved”.
She spoke movingly to councilors about how road noise has degraded her life on Langlaw Drive.
His house bordered a field for almost three decades. Today it overlooks a busy road. She finds it difficult to spend more than an hour in her garden where she has a garden, a terrace and bird feeders.
“I can’t do it for very long because the noise is so loud,” she told advisers. “I won’t be able to enjoy my garden this summer.”
Her voice shook as she spoke to the counselors about the tension.
“My ears are assaulted and my brain is assaulted daily. And it’s really, really frustrating and giving me anxiety,” she said.