South Berry residents who have fought for noise mitigation from the $580 million Berry Bypass have received an early Christmas present.
$5.3 million has been allocated to construct noise mitigation measures in the southern part of the Berry village, which Kiama MP Gareth Ward described as a “major outcome for residents”.
South west Berry residents aired complaints in the South Coast Register in July and have continued to campaign for some respite from the highway noise - including writing an open letter to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
Residents around Mark Radium Park, Windsor Drive, North Street and parts of The Arbour and Huntingdale Park, say they suffer relentless traffic noise 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
They say they are forced to live with windows and doors closed, suffer sleep interruption and sleep deprivation and are unable to engage in normal activities on verandas and in gardens.
In the letter to the Premier, residents said in the absence of any noise mitigation, their homes had become the “noise barriers” for the rest of the Berry community, which is “blissfully unaware of the inescapable, relentless traffic noise eroding our home environment”.
At the time Mr Ward refuted claims nothing was being done, saying he continued to work with Roads and Maritime Services to find a suitable solution.
“Working with the Berry Community Forum and Berry residents, I’ve secured $5.3 million from the NSW Government to construct noise mitigation measures in the southern part of the Berry village,” Mr Ward said.
At this stage it is unsure if a noise wall or mound would be constructed with Mr Ward saying the community would be consulted before a final option was decided on.
“RMS conducted a post-construction assessment at Berry to compare actual noise levels with those predicted during the design of the project,” he said.
“The report concluded the operational noise mitigation measures already in place were performing as intended, with noise levels meeting both the project’s conditions of approval and EPA requirements.”
The report, which residents have been asking about since June, was to be released to the public today (Friday) according to Mr Ward.
“While RMS advised me the project requirements have been met, I asked them to do more to address the concerns of our community,” he said. “I’d like to thank RMS for working with me on this important outcome for locals.”
Mr Ward said the RMS would release concept designs for the project and would consult with the community prior to going out to tender for work in the first half of next year.
“One of the reasons I stood for parliament was to fix the Princes Highway. The benefits have been enormous – lives have been saved and travel times improved enormously,” he said.
“However, residents have raised with me concerns about the subsequent noise impacts. I have sat in the living rooms and backyards of impacted residents and as their local MP, I have taken up the fight to secure the best possible outcomes.
“This is a major outcome for local residents who have raised concerns with me about the need for noise mitigation.”
Not long after the Berry Bypass originally opened in July 2017 concerns were raised by northern residents about traffic noise and moves were made to alleviate issues.
Interestingly, plans for the new Berry to Bomaderry Princes Highway upgrade include noise mitigation measures, with a noise wall to be built at the southern end of the 10.5km project, near the Cambewarra Road roundabout to reduce the impact to properties which exceed the noise criteria.
Mr Ward also announced the current 213 metre long noise barrier on the eastern side of the Princes Highway adjacent to Coryule Place at Kiama, starting south of the Bland Street overpass, would be lifted to 3.5 metres.