North Van residents sound off over highway noise barrier
Residents of a North Vancouver neighbourhood say they’ve been lobbying the provincial government to install a sound barrier along their stretch of Highway 1 for more than 30 years.
Their letters and email chains show that promises have been made and plans set in motion, but still, no fence.
Today, the traffic noise reaching the doorsteps of Gladwin Drive is exacerbated by the noise of steam shovels, post drivers and backhoes — sound barrier-building equipment — but on the opposite side of the highway.
With a new eastbound emergency pullout lane under construction, the Ministry of Transportation decided to replace a ramshackle fence on the south side of the highway with a new three-metre absorptive sound wall. The new fence is directly across the way from where Gladwin residents have been lobbying for a sound protection wall for years, but to no avail.
“You can’t even hear cars coming up behind you on the road anymore and it’s dangerous,” said Grant O’Byrne, a 30-year homeowner on Gladwin Drive, an otherwise quiet North Vancouver district road running parallel to Highway 1 with just a few metres of grass and brush in between.
And with no sidewalks nor drainage along Gladwin, residents have to walk in the middle of the road to avoid massive perennial mud puddles, only increasing the danger to pedestrians.
The Ministry of Transportation senior project manager Jay Porter didn’t respond to The Outlook’s request for an interview by press time but West Vancouver-Capilano MLA Ralph Sultan has been in touch with Gladwin residents about the problem for years.
In his unofficial mediation between residents and the transportation ministry, Sultan said the province would only agree to build a sound wall for Gladwin residents if the wall on the south side has the unintended effect of increasing traffic noise on the north side of the highway due to sound reflection.
“So the Ministry of Transportation, in its infinite wisdom said, ‘Okay we will test the sound levels currently on the north side of the road,” Sultan told The Outlook, “and we will see if there’s an increase in the sound level because of the installation of the sound barrier.’”
That test won’t be done until the south side barrier is completed within the next month or so.
Duane Marriner of Wakefield Acoustics Ltd. in Victoria was hired by the ministry to take the first sound measurements before construction began in December and he’ll return to measure the after effects when the wall is finished.
He told The Outlook that if the sound wall is made of the absorptive material the transportation ministry initially planned to use, any noise reflection to the north side would be minimal and well within the three-decibel threshold the province has allowed itself.
Still, residents like O’Byrne and the three dozen or so neighbours who have signed his petition for noise protection aren’t satisfied and say the province should build the wall on both sides while the equipment is here and readily available.
Gladwin residents have even gone so far as to get a quote to build their own wall if the province won’t do it.
At $200,000, residents say they will explore other means of putting pressure on the province and the North Vancouver district government first.
One of those avenues of pressure could be the film and television industries which regularly shoot behind Gladwin Drive in Murdo Frazer Park.
“We get letters from the film industry regularly asking for our support to let them film in the area and at nighttime and we’ve been very good about it,” O’Byrne said. “But we’ve come to the point where if we’re not getting any reciprocal funding or help back...”
Down the road, a neighbour agrees.
“Often they go door to door, collecting signatures from residents for permission to park in our area and we are always very accommodating,” Ninha Maia wrote to MLA Sultan late last year. “Perhaps the next time they come to my door, I’ll reconsider my signature.”