The members of Fairland Estates Civic Association have a lot of issues with the Intercounty Connector, an 18-mile east-west highway that backs up into their community of 200 families in East Montgomery County.
They say wild animals that lived in heavily forested areas now eliminated by the ICC are coming into their backyards; utility bills have increased because of a wind tunnel effect from the road; trees left behind by construction crews are now weak and at risk for falling on homes and people.
Most of all, however, they have an issue with the noise generated by the road. Mainly, it’s the bridge that crosses over Paint Branch. Their community sits just south of the road, beginning at the intersection of Fairland Road and Fairridge Drive.
One resident, who identified herself as Valerie, said that her home is the closest to the bridge.
“I can sit in my den and I can sit in my living room and I can hear the cars coming on the bridge,” she said. “On the outside, on the deck, I can’t sit out there—the noise is just too great.”
There’s also the issue of lights that reflect off of glass in her home and shine directly into her bedroom. When it rains, the noise is awful, she said.
Valerie’s neighbors have similar stories of their lives being disrupted by the road, built on land that had been mostly trees.
Officials from the State Highway Administration that showed up at a meeting of the civic association in July had no answers.
“There’s no going back,” said Rob Shreeve, deputy director of the ICC office. “The bridge is not designed to carry a noise wall.”
Shreeve told residents that their neighborhood had been studied multiple times before construction began. There’s a 24-hour measurement of ambient noise, he said, which takes the neighborhood’s natural noise level and projects what the noise will be once the road is in place. To qualify for a sound wall, the projection has to be greater than 10 decibels.
Neighbors in Fairland Estates said the estimates must have been off. The study projected all the way into 2030, but here in 2012 the residents say noise is already disruptive.
Shreeve said there is no possibility that another measurement or study can be done. It’s not a good use of public money, he told the residents.
“The ICC has been new to a lot of communities from I-270 over to US-1,” Shreeve told the group.
“We have had to tell a lot of communities the same things we’re telling you, which is the decisions were made, the construction was done and we don’t have any other alternate."
Has the ICC noise disrupted your life? Are you and your neighbors doing anything to get relief?