Many Centretown residents living near the Queensway will finally be getting a little more peace and quiet thanks to the installation of noise reduction barriers along Highway 417.
Stretching between Preston Street and the Rideau Canal, the sound buffers are a component of the multi-year Highway 417 Expansion Project that will continue until 2020.
Shayla Stevens is a Carleton University student and lived at the intersection of Bronson Avenue and Catherine Street in the south of Centretown. Stevens’ bedroom faced the highway and for the nine months she lived there she said she was affected by the noise generated by traffic.
“I’m a really light sleeper so it made me very restless,” said Stevens. Stevens said she would often stay at a friend’s house to avoid the early wakeups, as she said the noise was most evident in the morning. “I obviously wouldn’t have signed and paid rent if I knew the noise would cause me to rarely sleep at my own house,” she said.
The Ontario Ministry of Transportation is undertaking the expansion project, which is scheduled to end in 2020.
While the project overall aims to reduce traffic congestion and cut travel time, the current construction activity requires lane and onramp closures at different times of the day, delaying traffic.
The work includes widening the highway by two lanes, repairing overpasses, and replacing overhead signage in addition to installing the sound buffers along the highway.
In 2005, a downtown Ottawa noise study was conducted by the ministry to determine where highway noise was above the decibel levels permitted in residential areas. The study concluded noise barriers should be installed along the north side of Highway 417 from Bronson Avenue to Lyon Street; on the south side of Highway 417 east of Preston Street westerly towards the existing Parkdale Avenue noise barrier; and that a number of barriers be erected on the south side of Highway 417 from Elgin Street westerly towards Glendale Avenue.
A ministry spokesperson said that, “noise barriers currently being constructed from Kent Street and from Lyon to Bank Street are expected to be completed by the end of this winter,” and that the construction of additional noise barriers will be coordinated with bridge rehabilitation and replacements as part of other work on Highway 417.
The statement also said that for residents closest to the highway, the noise barriers will reduce sound levels by five to seven decibels. For the average person, a difference in noise levels is noticeable as of three decibels.
Public consultations were held in the winter of 2015 to provide local residents with an opportunity to contribute their views on the placement and installation of the noise barriers. A report produced at the time showed a strong community support for the barriers.