TransLink is offering to spend half a million dollars more to address noise from the Golden Ears Bridge.
The offer was presented last week to a community action group which has been meeting with the provincial transportation authority since September to deal with noise and drainage issues associated with the bridge.
While the expansion joints meet transportation ministry standards, the incessant croaks and thumps from vehicles driving over the gaps between them have been a nuisance for people in nearby neighbourhoods since the bridge opened in June 2009.
TransLink pitched nine options to dampen noise from the bridge, including increasing the height of a concrete wall, adding additional sound barriers, and planting evergreen trees.
Residents are now left with picking which of nine options they’d like TransLink to proceed with, as moving ahead with all nine would cost more that a million dollars, exceeding the $500,000 being offered.
Just raising the height of an existing sound wall by 900 mm would cost $675,000.
“It puts the matter into their hands. They can tell us what they want us to do with the money,” said TransLink spokesperson Ken Hardie.
“We are asking them to prioritize what would make the most sense to do first. The people then own the results.”
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 have 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.
Additional speed and noise reduction measures, which include larger speed limit signs, use of engine brake signs, additional road markings, and LED speed limit signs are also being considered by TransLink.
But many residents still want TransLink to install sinus-plates over the expansion joints – an expensive fix that TransLink is not open to.
Derek Thorkelson, a professor of Earth Sciences at Simon Fraser University, is one of the Wildwood Crescent residents fed-up with “TransLink’s continued deception and manipulation.”
“Sinus plates would completely relieve the problem of the expansion joint burping, but TransLink has refused to recognize this solution publicly, and has intentionally used flawed reasoning to convince us that sinus plates would not provide the best acoustical outcome,” said Thorkelson, who has investigated the use of sinus plates on other bridges.
“TransLink is simply afraid of the costs and we are paying the price – with disturbed sleep and daytime annoyance. There is no money currently set aside for sinus plate installation, and instead we are left with an inherently flawed design of glued-in rubber strips which, after a few months, pop out and lie strewn on the bridge deck.”
Other residents wonder if TransLink is offering the cash to “divide and conquer” by pitting them against each other in competition for funds.
“They’ve given us a difficult task,” said Leslie Colquhoun, who also blames the construction of the bridge and surrounding road network for causing drainage problems in her backyard.
“It’s not fair. I vote we pick everything. You do everything it takes to mitigate the noise.”
Pitt Meadows’ new mayor also believes the budget for solutions is not enough.
“It is my opinion that the $500,000 budget falls short of the necessary $1,750,000 for an effective solution,” said Deb Walters.
1. New 3.9 metre wall (113 B Avenue ramp) – $60,00;
2. Evergreen trees (113B Ave ramp) – $10,000;
3. Hang concrete wall (113 B overpass) – $250,00;
4. Plant trees on existing berms – $20,000;
5. Plant trees along 113B Ave. shoulder – $35,000;
6a. Raise sound wall by 900 mm – $675,000;
6b. Raise sound wall by 1,500 mm – $750,000;
7. Plant trees on berm west of soundwall – $40,000;
8. Plant trees east of Joyner Place – $20,000;
9. Plant trees on berms adjacent to Hammond Road – $15,000.