The battle between Promontory residents in Ahwatukee and the Arizona Department of Transportation over noise coming from the Congressman Ed Pastor Freeway continues, though some hope emerged for a problem affecting many homeowners along the Pecos stretch of the highway.
ADOT sent its sound technicians to the far-west Ahwatukee community that overlooks the freeway after residents complained that the agency’s failure to extend the sound wall far enough past the community has resulted in excessively high noise levels.
Resident Stephen Whalley said noise readings registered between 48 and 59 decibels – below the 64dB threshold used to determine whether the state must undertake additional noise-suppression measures.
He told ADOT in an email subsequent to the tests that residents want an independent company to measure noise since his readings on his equipment have been higher. He also asked ADOT to help him and his neighbors find a company and to help pay for the independent readings
Meanwhile, Whalley also said ADOT has promised that it may soon be installing shields on freeway lights to reduce the glare that has had residents along most of the freeway route complaining.
ADOT officials have previously told Promontory residents that it had to study different strategies for controlling glare and that it had no timetable yet for solving the problem.
Promontory residents said that because the sound wall was stopped before a freeway bridge and not extended farther west as ADOT’s original designs showed, they’ve been subjected to freeway noise almost around the clock since the freeway opened last month.
Whalley noted that the wall ends just before a bridge and that that bridge does not have a rubberized coating on the surface.
Residents say the wall was cut short to save money – and thereby increase the profit that the consortium of contractors who comprise design-builder Connect202Partners stood to make from its fixed-price of $1.7 billion to build the freeway. ADOT has not said how much money was saved.
While rubberized asphalt is applied to many freeways to provide a smoother ride, it also reduces noise by one or two decibels, Whalley said.
The original full wall plan to the cut back wall that was built was done for ‘efficiency’ reasons. Efficiency being cost savings.
“The rubberized road surface is not done on bridges or multiuse crossings like the one in our gap as they need to monitor the structural integrity of the bridge on a regular basis and they could not do this if its covered with the rubberized surface,” he said in his email to ADOT.
State Sen. Sean Bowie attended the testing last Friday, and said he and his Legislative District 18 colleagues, Reps. Jennifer Jermaine and Mitzy Epstein, are monitoring the fight.
“I’d like to take more sound readings at different times, particularly in spring and summer, to get a clearer picture,” Bowie said, adding:
“I also imagine the noise levels will go up as more traffic uses it. It’s important for this to be an ongoing process.”