Noise barrier construction started in Andover after 15-year battle
ANDOVER — When Stan Riemer moved into his Hansom Road home 15 years ago, his real estate agent told him that the state was working on plans to install barriers to reduce the traffic noise coming off Interstate 93.
Now, the plans are coming to fruition with contractors pouring the foundations for the walls starting at the beginning of this month, according to Michael Verseckes, spokesman for the state’s Department of Transportation.
“The day the first tree got cut was exciting to say the least,” Riemer said. “This has been a long, arduous ordeal.”
He said the project started and stopped several times over the past 15 years before funding was approved for the project last year.
“Hopefully, this will be the last year to sit in my backyard and hear the highway as loud as it is now,” Riemer said. “The noise won’t disappear, but it will be less. The quality of life to all of those abutting the highway will definitely improve.”
The noise barriers will be constructed on the northbound side of the highway between the Route 133 and Dascomb Road exits, approximately 1.12 miles, Verseckes said.
In most cases the barriers will be between 15 and 22 feet tall, he said.
Contractors started clearing the stretch of highway this summer and construction started earlier this month. The construction of the $5.33 million barriers is expected to last until next summer, Verseckes said.
“The reason these barriers are being installed now is because some years back, the breakdown lane was converted to an active travel lane during peak hours,” Verseckes said. “When the volume of vehicles that use I-93 was taken into consideration, it was determined the noise barriers were warranted.”
It is expected 84 homes will benefit from the barriers, including homes on about 13 different streets.
The project was approved by the state in 2006 after a decade-long battle with residents who said the noise has kept them up at night and hurts their property values.
While the project was approved in 2006, it took an additional five years for the funding to be secured. Last year, the approval of both state and federal funding became available for the project to move forward.
Efforts had been made by residents since the mid-1990s when traffic on the highway significantly increased. In 1998, the noise became even worse when the breakdown lane was open for travel during peak hours, neighbors said.
The push for funding was started with former state Sen. Susan Tucker, who was succeeded by Barry Finegold.
Finegold said he has been working on the project as a state representative before jumping to the Senate. He said many phone calls and meetings took place to make the noise barriers a reality.
“The credit goes to the neighbors and Stan Riemer for leading the charge,” Finegold said. “I am just glad these sound barriers are going up so the neighbors affected by the noise will have a better quality of life.”
Riemer thanked Finegold for his work. “We couldn’t have gotten it done without him,” he said.
Former Bridle Path Road resident Donald Wade helped collected nearly 500 signatures on a petition to the state, but he has since moved away before the walls were constructed.
“Maybe he can come back and see it for himself,” Riemer said.
By Jonathan Phelps firstname.lastname@example.org