Acres of trees have been removed along Route 2 in Concord and Lincoln to make way for a major road construction project, leaving some residents who live along the busy highway frustrated about the increased noise and light from traffic.
The residents say the trees provided a natural barrier between the road and their homes, and now that they are gone, disruptions will go up and their quality of life and property values will go down. And despite making pleas to state and local officials to install a sound barrier, they said, they are hitting roadblocks at every turn and not getting a definitive answer.
“It makes it almost unbearable for the residents,’’ said Steve Durante, who lives on Brooks Road in Lincoln. “To me, the property values are being decimated because we’ve had no representation on our end, and no interest in supporting the right to get some mitigation. No one will ever buy any of these houses now.’’
Peter the chairman of the Lincoln Board of Selectmen, said town officials will look into some mitigation measures, but not barriers, which were dropped from consideration some years ago.
“It would create a canyon of walls and from an aesthetic standpoint, it was never viewed as a solution,’’ Braun said. “Right now there is not a consensus on the Board of Selectmen to support walls.’’
Meanwhile, state officials say that while traffic noise in the neighborhood exceeded acceptable levels even before construction began, there is no funding for a sound barrier because the area does not meet federal eligibility requirements.
The $48.2 million project involves building a bridge to carry Route 2 above Crosby’s Corner in Concord, where its intersection with Route 2A now is controlled by traffic lights. New neighborhood service roads that run parallel to Route 2 will be built so residents and businesses don’t have to use the state highway to enter and exit from their driveways. The project starts at Bedford Road in Lincoln and extends to 300 feet west of Sandy Pond Road’s intersection with Route 2 in Concord.
Officials say the goal is to reduce traffic congestion and improve safety for westbound commuters navigating a sharp turn at Crosby’s Corner, and homeowners who have trouble exiting and entering the transportation link with Boston. Police say the area has been the scene of many accidents over the years.
To make way for the project, the state took over 10 properties and demolished 10 buildings and started clearing trees this spring from about 25 acres of land. The project is expected to be done in the spring of 2016.
Michael Verseckes, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said the highway agency studied the inclusion of noise barriers as part of the project’s permitting process. He said if a given study shows an area would be subjected to high noise levels, and the construction of barriers would be a “feasible and reasonable’’ solution, the structures are included and eligible for federal funds.
He said the state’s study found that noise levels in the area exceeded federal and state decibel guidelines, and that the barriers would be feasible in terms of effectively reducing noise. However, he said, they fell short of the standard for a “reasonable’’ solution.
“Given the cost of constructing a noise barrier, too few homes would receive any benefit, which means noise barrier construction here would not qualify for federal funds,’’ Verseckes said. “So they were not included with this project.’’
Braun said the town has talked to a sound consultant, and may take another look to see whether there are mitigation methods other than walls.
“We empathize completely with people’s concerns who live along the highway but we believe there are other ways of mitigating, and we will work with the highway department as they begin the replanting,’’ Braun said.
He said the project has affected many residents, not just those living along Route 2. He said the town has been dealing with traffic delays, cut-through traffic, nighttime tree cutting and detonations.
Daryl Drummond, who lives with his wife and four children on Brooks Road in Lincoln, said it will take years for trees to grow tall enough to block the light and sound from Route 2. He said neighbors have repeatedly asked for help, but no one is listening because they represent a small group of residents.
“There’s been a minimal amount of mitigation,’’ Drummond said. “It’s been very disappointing all the way around.’’
Durante worries that as the project continues, it will get more and more difficult to get the attention of the town and state.
“Every day we get further and further away from having our community and street restored because they keep putting more infrastructure in,’’ Durante said. “There was no consideration given to the local community. It was clear they didn’t care.’’