Home Government Evergreen Woods Residents Documenting Health Impacts of Parkway Pollution

Evergreen Woods Residents Documenting Health Impacts of Parkway Pollution

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Cars whiz by the Evergreen Woods development with only a thin layer of trees in between the highway and 2,000 residents' homes. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
Cars whiz by the Evergreen Woods development with only a thin layer of trees in between the highway and 2,000 residents’ homes. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Residents of the Evergreen Woods condominium complex are now beginning to conduct a door-to-door survey to document what they describe as the adverse health effects of pollution caused by a lack of a barrier between their development and the Garden State Parkway.

“My door-to-door became one big headache,” said Michele Spector, describing how the fumes from the highway affected her during her recent hour-long survey. “From being outside for an hour I had a headache.”

The headaches lingered for two days, Spector said.

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A group of residents from the development have been lobbying the New Jersey Turnpike Authority – thus far, unsuccessfully – for a sound wall to be installed between the Parkway’s southbound lanes and their homes. They say noise and fumes from the highway began pouring into their neighborhood after the authority began a construction project two years ago to widen the roadway so new shoulders could be added. As part of the shoulder-widening project, thousands of trees that previously created a natural barrier between the highway and the development were removed.

In a meeting arranged between the authority and the Evergreen Woods condominium board by Mayor John Ducey, Turnpike officials promised they would plant at least 200 trees this fall. The residents say the trees will have no impact until they grow to 10 to 12 feet tall, which will take another three to five years.

In the mean time, “the sound level will stay the same,” said Stephen Brill, an Evergreen Woods resident.

“The Turnpike Authority is doing what they think is probably necessary just to shut us up,” said Ed Sluka, another resident.

Ducey, who has pleaded the residents’ case to state officials, said earlier this year that state Transportation Commissioner Jamie Fox, who serves on the Turnpike Authority, is opposed to sound walls.

The residents say a sound wall will not only cut down on noise pollution, but will block some of the fumes from the highway from enveloping the neighborhood.

The residents most affected by the Parkway project have said that the Evergreen Woods condominium board does not want to spend the money to hire an attorney to fight the authority’s decision not to build a sound wall, but at least one board member – who voted against accepting the state’s tree-plantings as the only solution to the pollution issue – is one of the people who have fallen ill from the increase in fumes.

The effort to collect data on those who have gotten ill over the past two years is now an official project of the condominium’s board.

“They want to document everybody in Evergreen Woods who’s gotten sick,” said Spector. “I keep hearing from other people, ‘two and a half years ago, that’s when the problems in our house started.'”

Spector said many residents, especially children, have developed symptoms of asthma they never experienced before the trees were cut down, and time spent outside can translate into headaches for days afterward.

“Something really has to be done,” Spector said.


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  • ThereRnoFiscalConservatives

    Because everyone knows a 15 foot wall blocks all exhaust fumes !!

    How stupid can you be.

  • Ricketts

    I live on the east side of Evergreen Woods, and this claim about the pollution is crazy.

    Millions of people live in urban environments, where cars are around all hours of the day, and none of them have any of these problems — so no, it’s not pollution giving you those headaches. Take an Allegra; it’s probably allergies.

    What relevance does this have to the sound wall we want anyway? All this is going to do is give Evergreen Woods a bad rep as a place to live and keep property values down.
    This effort will do more harm than good to the residents.

    • JW

      This is some wacky local having a psychosomatic episode, probably for the attention. A few feet of trees aren’t keeping ‘fumes’ from an 8 lane highway from reaching your house a few hundred feet away. Build a wall- it won’t keep ‘fumes’ from wafting over the wall. Some people are just dumb.

  • Stephen Brill

    To those doubters that feel that a soundwall does not lessen the impact of vehiclular pollution should Google the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. You will find that the pollution is reduced in the immediate area. Further, you can also google the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which documents CO, NOx and particulate matter. The Unversity of Utah, department of pediatrics study Near Highway Pollutants in Motor Vehicle Exhaust. And finally the Ameican Lung Association, Transportation Background Document.

  • Stephen Brill

    FYI, I presented my research durning a Brick Township council meeting, each council member received a copy of the articles.

  • Trevor

    Though I agree with their cause entirely. A wall will not protect you from exhaust fumes, nor will exhaust fumes give you headaches in open air space. If that were the case we’d have toll workers with constant headaches.

  • Stu Pidity

    This gives rise to that age old question: What came first? The Parkway or Evergreen Woods condominium complex?

    • james

      The expansion is the issue. Everything was fine until several miles were basically clearcut, including the median.