Brick officials have agreed to facilitate a sound study in the area of the Evergreen Woods condominium development in the latest chapter of a long-term campaign by residents to prompt the New Jersey Turnpike Authority (which has jurisdiction over the Garden State Parkway) to build a sound wall that they say could reduce the presence of exhaust fumes and noise in the neighborhood.
“Everybody seems to be ignoring us, as well as the residents,” said Mayor John Ducey, challenging the state’s long-term decision-making process at the site of the new highway interchange 91.
Residents contend their neighborhood qualifies for a sound wall, but one was not ordered because they could not afford to hire an attorney to make an environmental claim that would have forced its construction. Ducey previously said that the late former state Transportation Commissioner Jamie Fox – who served under the McGreevey and Christie administrations – denied a sound wall for the community because he was ideologically against them.
The township, Ducey said, will engage the services of Brightview Engineering to conduct a sound study in Evergreen Woods and determine, once and for all, whether the community requires a sound wall.
If the tests prove the highway noise is above state-mandated maximums, “We can then put additional pressure on the governor’s office, the legislature and even the commissioners” to build one, the mayor said.
The study will be conducted over the next few weeks, Ducey said.
Residents have passionately argued at township council meeting on the subject of sound and fume pollution since the the Garden State Parkway was expanded in the Brick area. The state has contended that since the expansion of the roadway was in the shoulder area, rather than traffic lanes, that no sound wall was required under existing laws. But residents have shot back that the highway as a whole was expanded and a columns of tall trees were knocked down that provided a natural barrier – both physical and in terms of sound – to the neighborhood. The state funded new trees in the area two years ago, but residents have said they have failed to maintain them, and Shorebeat found several dead trees during a recent walk-through of the neighborhood.
Residents have called for the township to file suit against the state on their behalf, a request which has not caught on with elected officials.
Ducey said there has been “no discussion” of a lawsuit as of yet, but he is hoping the sound study will form the basis for future action.
“If it doesn’t help, we’ll see what happens in the future,” Ducey said.