By Christie Duffy
Residents of one Brick community say living next to the Parkway wasn’t so bad, until last year. Now they say traffic noise is deafening.
In an effort to make the Parkway safer, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority cut down scores of tress last year, across 146 acres. The tress had also acted as a natural sound barrier.
“I’m sleep deprived all the time. I find myself making stupid mistakes. I almost pulled out into traffic,” Spector said.
“The noise is continually getting worse and worse,” said Mark Cull, also of Brick Township.
Evergreen Woods residents have bought their own decibel reader so they can measure the level of noise in their community.
“They’re so noisy. They can exceed 90 decibels,” said Stephen Brill.
A noise measurement report by the county found a loud passing truck was the noisiest at nearly 75 decibels. The legal limit is 65 decibels during daytime hours, but the state’s noise control law does not apply to public roadway noise.
Residents say it’s not just the noise factor, but they also believe they are inhaling more vehicle fumes thanks to this Parkway improvement project.
“The kids in this neighborhood, a lot of them are getting heavy asthma attacks,” John Sluka said.
Trees along the Parkway were taken down to add lanes and widen the Parkway shoulders. They were also removed to make room for water runoff basins.
“I’ve lived in this development for 20 years and Brick longer than that and it never floods in this area of the Parkway,” Spector said.
But the DEP disagrees. A spokesman says the basins were needed not just to avoid flooding, but to also keep diesel, fuel and oil runoff out of nearby brooks and tributaries.
The New Jersey Turnpike Authority says safety is the main reason for the construction and a spokesman issued this response to our request for comment on residents’ complaints: “The Parkway was a busy road when Evergreen Woods was built. It remains a busy road today. Nothing about the safety project will make it any busier. And nothing about the safety project will move the traffic any closer to the homes in Evergreen Woods. For those reasons, the project doesn’t qualify for a sound barrier.”
The Turnpike Authority plans to re-plant more than $500,000 worth of trees in Brick Twp. alone, but trees cannot be planted in the water runoff basins dividing Evergreen Woods from the Parkway.