Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Neighborhood may not get ICC sound barrier

Sherview Lane area in Burtonsville does not meet criteria, official says

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This story was corrected on June 26, 2008, from its original version

Residents near Sherview Lane in Burtonsville may not get sound walls to block noise from the Intercounty Connector because the toll road will most likely run 30 feet under Old Columbia Pike, an ICC official said.

Nine sound walls spanning 149,000 square feet were slated to be built in specific areas of the second segment of the toll road, or section C, which will run from west of Route 29 to east of I-95. The section is part of a larger project that will connect Interstates 270 and Route 1 in Laurel.

There was a possibility that one of the sound walls was going to be placed at the intersection of Old Columbia Pike and the ICC, which falls directly behind Sherview Lane, according to ICC maps and Fran Counihan, media relations director for the ICC.

But residents near Sherview Lane, off Old Columbia Pike between Fairland and Briggs Chaney roads, were told at a June 18 open house at Fairland School they didn't meet the criteria for the sound wall, according to Sherview Lane resident Linda Rahn.

That's because design plans developed before 2004 showed the ICC as an overpass above Old Columbia Pike, which would require a sound wall. More recent designs have it running under the road, negating the need for sound walls at that location, Counihan said.

‘‘It will decrease a visual impact as well as an audible impact,” Counihan said. ‘‘They would have qualified if indeed the design went over Columbia, not down.”

Rahn said she was told in previous open houses that her neighborhood would have a sound wall. She said Mike Jaeger, the contract manager for section C, gave residents a walking tour a few months ago which showed where the wall would be built. Jaeger directed all questions to Counihan.

The ICC will also run near the Countryside neighborhood, a development of about 120 homes off of Briggs Chaney, just west of Rahn's home, said the president of Briggs Chaney Countryside Civic Association, Peter Gale. Gale said he was surprised to hear there weren't going to be any sound barriers because the community had been told there would be some.

Stanley Doore, a member of the East County Citizens Advisory Board and the Calverton Citizens Association, said ICC officials had always mentioned sound walls at meetings. ‘‘That's been the case from the very beginning.”

But Counihan said the placement of sound walls and roads is not definite because of the nature of the construction process, called design-build, which is a method of simultaneously designing a project while it's being built.

It allows for flexibility and collaboration between the contracted designer and builder, Counihan said.

‘‘It's really the way construction of roads and major highways are going right now,” she said.

But Counihan acknowledged the flexibility can lead to uncertainty in the community.

While ICC is close to its final design, project managers still can't promise residents anything, Counihan said.

‘‘The state does not just tell people until we definitely know,” she said.

She stressed the final design will be re-checked to ensure residential areas that qualify for sound barriers have them.

In previous open houses, ICC officials have said they will take into account environmental and community concerns by promoting $370 million worth of environmental initiatives, adding bike lanes and limiting noise from construction.

Neighborhoods must meet specific criteria for sound walls, which include having 75 percent of affected homeowners in favor of the walls, at least an increase of 66 decibels in noise from the new highway and a reduction of 10 decibels when the sound walls are added. With the lowered road, Sherview Lane did not meet the noise requirements, according to information from Counihan and ICC project officials.