News

GE Bridge sound wall to come down

The existing wall is too short to buffer noise from taller trucks and traffic that cross the Golden Ears Bridge daily. - Colleen Flanagan/The News
The existing wall is too short to buffer noise from taller trucks and traffic that cross the Golden Ears Bridge daily.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/The News

A sound barrier that was too short too keep the noise of traffic out of a Pitt Meadows neighbourhood will be rebuilt by the end of spring following years of lobbying by residents.

TransLink will replace the existing wall with a new one that's 4.6 metres in height (15 feet), or 1.5 metres higher.

Trees will also be planted behind homes along Wildwood Crescent and at the border of Maple Ridge to dampen the incessant croaks and thumps that echo through the area when vehicles cross the Golden Ears Bridge.

Set for completion in late May, the project will cost taxpayers $817,000.

Mike Stark, president of the Southern Pitt Meadows Residents' Association, is relieved to see a solution is finally underway.

"This process has been ongoing for more than 10 years, so I am happy to finally see a partial resolution to the noise issue with the installation of a sound barrier of appropriate height that will, according to TransLink, reduce the existing noise by 50 per cent," he said.

"This is a huge win for our community."

The new wall is the culmination of years of negotiation between the neighbourhood association, the city and TransLink that began in 2002, before the Golden Ears Bridge was built.

Residents voiced their concerns before the barrier was constructed as it was shorter than the large semi-trailer trucks that criss-cross the span and far shorter than what's recommended by acoustic experts.

The neighbourhood association also wanted sinus plates installed between bridge expansion joints and continue to maintain that the interlocking plates are the best "long-term" solution to the noise.

TransLink has already spent $600,000 installing cloth-like inserts to reduce noise caused by vehicles driving over the bridge's expansion joints.

Testing done by TransLink found the inserts reduced noise on the bridge deck between six and 10 decibels, while nighttime noise heard in Pitt Meadows along Wildwood Crescent dropped by more than 10 decibels. More acoustic testing will be done after the new sound barrier is built.

Metro Vancouver's regional transportation authority, however, is constantly replacing the inserts as they pop out of the joints over time. Those replacement costs are being built into the bridge's annual maintenance.

Patricia MacNeil, with TransLink, said staff will continue to keep the community informed about the progress.

"Environmental impacts will be closely monitored and managed throughout the demolition and construction period, as well," she added.

Although Pitt Meadows Mayor Deb Walters welcomes the new sound barrier, she wishes cash-strapped TransLink had got it right the first time round.

"I am very frustrated that they are ripping it down," said Walters.

"Here's a perfectly good wall and it's going to be destroyed. It's just roll the windows down and throw the money out of the window and we'll build a new one. It's very frustrating, especially when we talk about finding funding for TransLink."

In addition to complaints about noise, the Southern Pitt Meadows Residents Association still has concerns about drainage problems related to bridge construction that they want addressed.

Read a related editorial in our Opinion section: The biggest wall

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