Residents of the Starwood Crossing neighborhood are speaking up and seeking action regarding the noise levels created by the interchange of Interstates 93 and 495.

Fed up with the noise they say is affecting their quality of life and increasing their stress levels, residents sought out their own sound study to be conducted and are now urging state officials to do the same.

Jonathan Dean, who moved to a home on Starwood Crossing in September of last year, spearheaded the neighborhood efforts. He said he was aware that he was moving near a major interchange that would likely be noisy, but the sounds exceed what he was prepared for.

"This is affecting our lives. We are exhausted," he said. "We understand that there is going to be a level of noise, but we feel it is a little bit higher than it should be."

After sending a letter to his neighbors explaining his concerns with the noise, Dean said he received a number of responses in agreement with him.

With the help of Erica Walker, a researcher who runs the Community Noise Lab at Boston University, residents were able to conduct a noise study funded through grants from the university.

Dean said the study, conducted in September, found the noise levels to be five times higher than the World Health Organization's recommendations for transportation noise. The noise itself isn't the only impact, though, as the vibrations and rumbling that result from it are also felt by residents.

The last study conducted on the area with the major interchange was done 20 years ago. Dean said that study found the noise was exceeding the limits of the World Health Organization's recommendations at the time and posed a threat. However, the state determined it was not financially feasible to fix because there weren't as many people living in the area.

As the interchange has become more popular and frequently used over the last two decades, Dean said the noise levels have partnered in that growth.

"This is an issue," he said. "If the level of the noise could be controlled, why is it not controlled?

The trucks passing by in the early hours of the morning are not only affecting the way Dean and his wife sleep, but also the amount of sleep his 2-year-old son is getting.

"My (son) would wake up in the middle of the night from hearing a loud sound and getting scared," he said. "That's not healthy for him. That's when his brain is developing."

After exhausting their resources on the town level and realizing the issue fell to the hands of the state, residents reached out to Rep. Frank Moran, D-Lawrence, a few months ago.

Moran drafted a bill on their behalf which he said would require the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to conduct a noise study in the town of Andover at the intersection by the end of the year.

"What would happen after that, the result of the study we would have to send back to the committee so they can review the report and go from there," said Moran.

His hope, as well as the hope of area residents, is that the study will result in sound barriers being built to block the noise. Moran said he hopes his bill will be backed by other lawmakers and passed by September or October of this year.

Dean and a handful of other residents attended a Committee on Transportation hearing, urging other lawmakers to support Moran and his bill. Moran said the general feeling of the hearing was that a majority of the committee was on board.

"As with every bill, you have to continue the advocacy and making sure you know this is important for people in my district, especially those in this neighborhood," he said.

Dean gave testimony on behalf of the residents and said most of them submitted hand-written testimonies to Moran's office. They also submitted the results of Walker's study and the results of the last noise study conducted in the area 20 years ago, to show the differences.

"The end goal of it all is not about a wall," said Dean. "We just wanted a noise study. ... The major goal is to get the sound mitigated."


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