For those living near ICC, noise fight continues

Ari Ashe,

COLESVILLE, Md. – A local community group is continuing its fight against the Maryland Transportation Authority, arguing the noise on the InterCounty Connector is making life in the neighborhood unbearable.

“There are houses within 400 feet of the ICC and they are hearing the traffic at all hours of the night,” says Rich Burnes, who is part of the Colesville ICC Noise Concern Group.

“It’s terrible. There is no earthly reason why they should have to put up with this.”

And sure enough on Cutstone Way, near Bonifant Road and the National Capital Trolley Museum, it wasn’t hard to see the ICC, or find people who said it’s unpleasant.

“It’s horrible. You can’t keep the windows open at night. It’s ridiculous how bad it is,” says Leslie Savary, who is one of those residents who can see the ICC outside her window.

Another occupant on the street, who wished to remain anonymous, tells WTOP he had to replace all the windows in his house to drown out the noise.

Even still, he says there’s a constant hum, especially on dry pavement and during the rush hour.

Burnes points out it’s especially bad in the late fall and early winter when cars hit the crunchy leaves on the ground.

And for residents like Leslie Savary, the ICC is an unwelcome intrusion into her life.

“In 2000, we bought our house for the sole purpose of not having anyone behind us, and the peace and tranquility,” says Savary.

She says her husband and children can sleep through the noise, but it often keeps her up at night.

The Colesville ICC Noise Concern Group has addressed their concerns already with the Maryland Transportation Authority and ICC Project officials.

“We’re trying everything we can to try and generate some interest in the state to get sound barriers built on Bonifant Road,” says Burnes.

However, the group hasn’t been successful.

“We have had ongoing dialogue with several residents who live in those four communities since the ICC opened to traffic in November 2011. We also met with the Colesville Noise Concern Group on May 9, 2012,” says Ray Feldman, a spokesman with the InterCounty Connector Project.

“We have shared the noise analysis data with them and explained why some sections of communities did not meet the criteria for a sound wall. We have also explained the federal and state noise mitigation guidelines, and indicated that the state does not plan to do any additional noise level testing or build any additional sound walls.”

In order to get a sound wall, the community must demonstrate an average noise level over 66 decibels per hour, or 10 decibel jump from the pre-ICC levels.

The pre-ICC ambient noise at 1615 Bonifant Road, about 0.4 miles from the ICC overpass, was 57 decibels.

However, when asked at a recent budget forum about the problem, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett didn’t seem to agree with the guidelines argument.

“I’m not sure they are properly measuring it, and even if they are within the standards, that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable,” says Leggett.

“I’m convinced they are beyond the current regulation, but even if they are not, we need to go back and change the decibel down through noise remediation.”

Leggett called it “a difficult fight for us, but one worth fighting.”

He also urged the Maryland Transportation Authority to consider how raising the speed limit on the ICC from 55 to 60 would impact the noise problem.

Final recommendations on raising the speed limits could come next month.

Burnes tells WTOP that the Colesville ICC Noise Concern Group is actively discussing their next step.

The video below is an example of the noise. Though the sound is similar to static or interference, it’s actually coming from the ICC, which can be seen behind the trees.

Follow @AriAsheWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2013 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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