Near the Route 40 Connector, development continues, and so, according to area resident Eileeen Bujalski, does the noise from the traffic.
“I live along this connector,” said Bujalski, a resident in her neighborhood for 28 years. “It increases steadily,” she said of both the traffic and the noise.
Now, with Quinnipiac University expected to greet the first class for its medical school on its North Haven campus in 2013 and in addition to creating an urgent care facility off Devine Street, she wondered why noise barriers were not planned for the well-traveled road.
The good news for Bujalski is that, unless a student is traveling from Quinnipiac University in Hamden to the North Haven facility, Quinnipiac now expects traffic to exit I-91 on Washington Street rather than travel on the Route 40 Connector to its North Haven campus, according to directions on the university Web site and a spokesperson at the school.
The bad news is that, according to Kevin Nursick, spokesman for the Department of Transportation, no sound barriers for the Route 40 Connector are planned.
“We don’t have any plans for noise abatement on Route 40," said Nursick, who explained that noise barriers are installed in Connecticut basically in two ways.
“If we were adding lanes or capacity on Route 40, we could have that partially funded at the federal level,” said Nursick, terming noise abatement as the result of a capacity expansion “type one.”
The second type of funding for noise barriers—and the kind that would apply to the Route 40 Connector—comes from the state, and it is an account that, Nursick said, the legislature has not funded for a decade.
“There are dozens and dozens and dozens [of locations along state roads for noise abatement] on that list,” he said. Given the economy and the state’s financial condition, it is unlikely that funding from the state will take place in the near future.
“There’s no money and nothing’s moving and it hasn’t been for at least 10 years,” he continued. “Noise barriers are in demand. There’s no question about that. But how are you going to pay for it?
Nursick said the only other option is to privately fund construction. That option, at a very rough estimate of $1 million for construction materials for one noise barrier alone, is an expensive proposition. It is a solution he has only seen happen twice in his eight-year tenure at the DOT—and for very short noise barriers for major developments.
“There’s no law in Connecticut that puts the onus [for noise abatement] on a property owner or developer,” Nursick said. “The transportation infrastructure is there for everyone, and noise is associated with that.”
Nursick added that sound barriers aren’t always the solution to heavily trafficked roads. Because barriers can deflect sound, other factors such as the geometry of the location and the type of traffic enter into considerations of their placement.
And trees, he said, do not muffle noise as much as many people think.
He said the state has used a special surface that increases traction on accident-prone areas of roads, such as on I-91 in Hartford near what is termed the Old Colt building, and that reducing noise is a by-product of that. But he said that very expensive surface is seldom used and, then, quite strategically.
“This is living in the 21st century,” he observed. “If you want convenient, efficient transportation 24/7 by your doorstep and by the state’s roadway network, there is going to be a trade-off.”
In the case of a road with traffic, he said, the trade-off could well be noise.