A fired up Kiama MP Gareth Ward has hit back at Berry residents who have accused him of inaction over noise mitigation works at the $580 million Berry Bypass.
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In a open letter to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, signed by 64 residents around Mark Radium Park, Windsor Drive, North Street and parts of The Arbour and Huntingdale Park, said they were suffering relentless traffic noise 24 hours a day, seven days a week and the opening of the bypass had turned their lives into a “living hell”.
Mr Ward said claims he had not responded to phone calls, emails and other correspondence were untrue.
“I made a speech in the House on October 18 raising this issues,” Mr Ward said.
“I even quoted some of the correspondence I had received from Berry residents [David and Elizabeth Lambert and Margaret Walsh].
“The residents fighting for the noise mitigation know that - they have a copy of the speech I sent it to them.
“I read into record comments the concerned Berry residents raised.
“I have sat in their lounge rooms, I have responded to their phone calls and corresponded with everyone who has raised concerns with me.”
I have sat in their lounge rooms, I have responded to their phone calls and corresponded with everyone who has raised concerns with me.- Kiama MP Gareth Ward
The residents also questioned why noise monitoring results (completed March 2018) by RMS hadn’t been released, and why results of the independently conducted noise-monitoring survey by an acoustics firm (verifying unacceptable noise levels and recommending amelioration works) and a report (dated October 2018) analysing the original scope of work and highlighting discrepancies in the completed roadworks had been ignored.
“The reason the report has not been made public is because I’ve seen it and I’m manifestly unhappy with it and told RMS doing nothing was not a solution,” Mr Ward said.
“Their solution was to do nothing.
“I said it was not acceptable to me as the local member and wanted to see options for noise mitigation.
“I don’t believe in simply raising a problem. I believe in finding a solution and once I’ve come up with something with the RMS, I’ll release that along with the report to the public.
“Just as people didn’t believe me when I said I would build the Berry Bypass and did it, people should trust me when I say I’m fighting for the best outcome.”
TRAFFIC NOISE MITIGATION
Mr GARETH WARD (Kiama) (17:15): Today I use this private member's statement to bring to the attention of Parliament the concerns by residents around traffic noise and the need for noise mitigation. Members of the House will recall that I have previously raised the concerns of Coryule Place residents in Kiama who are being impacted by increased highway noise along the Princes Highway. Whilst I was pleased to secure funds to undertake some noise mitigation work along the Princes Highway, many residents have raised concerns about the effectiveness of the current solution. Tonight I want to raise not only this matter again but also that of Berry residents following the conclusion of the Berry bypass. Both of these issues bring to light the current standards recommended by the Environment Protection Authority and those adopted by the Roads and Maritime Services to provide for noise mitigation throughout the design and the delivery of highway projects. I believe these standards need to be reviewed.
I make no apology for using the time of this House to put onto the record issues that residents raise with me. I do so because as their representative it is my job to ensure issues that concern our community are heard at the very heart of government. I will now read onto the record some of the comments I have received from my electorate on this matter. I stress that these are extracts from letters because time prevents from reading all of the comments I have received. In a letter from Paul and Mary Mercieca, Maree Fenech, John Blom and Bob Belh they advise that:
In what is indeed an unfortunate state of affairs, we find that we must again approach you in an attempt to find a solution to the unreasonable level of traffic noise experienced by the residents of Coryule Place, Kiama, and in other residential streets in the vicinity.
Coryule Place residents have been approached by nearby residents to ascertain the effectiveness of the existing wall and they too have been dismayed by the lack of any relief provided by the existing structure. In a separate email from John Blom he advises that:
At all times we are just seeking to have provided along the Kiama bypass the same infrastructure that residential communities have in Dapto, Flinders and North St Berry.
We accept that all noise will not be eliminated but can live with the hum that the Dapto residents experience as opposed to the truck blasts we receive.
In regards to the type of material to be used in the construction of the noise barrier is an issue for the RMS but we seek a minimum height of 4 meters so as to intercept truck exhaust noise.
I have always suggested a concrete barrier on the basis of cost and that it is effectively used along the route through Dapto.
In the end, we just want a 4-meter wall full length of the Bypass.
Berry residents have also raised concerns. I received this communication from David and Elizabeth Lambert.
We refer you to previous letters and emails on the above-mentioned subject. Having done further research we are now of the opinion that inadequate investigation was performed by the RMS, its consultants, and its contractors, over the impact of road noise on urban residents south of the Kangaroo Valley Road overpass. For some reason it would seem that Mark Radium Park was addressed in previous studies for a noise barrier but was discounted from further attention as being unnecessary. The residents from Windsor Drive would have some interest in this. From information at hand it is apparent that most of the noise abatement attention was directed to the North Road precinct with a significant amount of attention to detail from the height of noise mounds to the road being lowered further from earlier design work.
It would seem that no noise measurements from the old highway were performed at residential locations south of Kangaroo Valley Road to compare with what is being experienced today. Those residential areas were ignored in design considerations. It's as if they didn't exist. It would also seem that the aforementioned previous studies totally ignored the several metres increase in height of the "bypass" at the same location of the old highway. This seems to be in contravention of best practice. We refer you to the following extract from one report—
They went on to talk about that detail. However, I will continue with the email:
We believe that, as an absolute minimum, and in consultation with affected residents, noise measurements be performed adjacent to affected properties. In the meantime, it would be appreciated if you can provide us with all, or any, documentation that contradicts the issues raised in this letter.
Margaret Walsh of Windsor Drive in Berry also raised her concerns. She said:
The noise from the new highway carries across to my house, so much so that all windows facing south have to be closed at night, and then of course the back bedroom facing north is impacted by the roundabout traffic noise and lights – a total no-win situation for me at all in both directions. This has not turned out in any way that I was told – and this in turn is a huge disappointment in what should have been a success story at this end of town.
I feel very strongly that all of this has devalued my property, instead of raising the value, as we had all been told by local real estate agents, "because the highway won't be behind you any more". No, I now just have a monstrous roundabout higher up than the old highway ever was.
My request is for a large barrier wall to be constructed on the top of the new footpath behind mine and other properties, and along the highway down beside Mark Radium Park.
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