November 18. 2013 10:29PM

In Windham, I-93 work is loud and clear

Union Leader Correspondent

WINDHAM — Residents living along Interstate 93 in Windham continue to express frustration over the lack of options available when it comes to the highway’s escalating noise problem.

On Squire Armour Road, where ongoing construction on I-93 has caused the noise source to creep closer and closer to residential back yards, residents reported trucks working right outside their windows in recent weeks.

“It’s been a little loud, but we know that part is temporary,” Squire Armour Road homeowner Nathan McNulty said on Monday. “But the coming winter season definitely highlights just how much the DOT has deforested this area.”

McNulty said he’s hoping some newly planted shrubs and trees would ultimately serve as a noise barrier, at least in the warmer months.

Contacted on Monday, Peter Stamnas, project manager for the $800 million highway widening project, said the plantings were recently installed as part of the construction project, mostly in response to residents’ requests for a sound wall.

McNulty said a number of those trees were planted around the end of the cul-de-sac at Squire Armour Road.

“The idea is they’re supposed to grow in and eventually block out some of the highway, but we shall see,” he added.

Meanwhile, in Concord, a special legislative committee continues to work toward a more concrete solution.

Headed by Rep. Kevin Waterhouse, the committee completed its report in late October and as it stands now, the plan is to present committee findings before the state Transportation Committee sometime in early 2014.

A noise impact study and barrier evaluation was completed at Squire Armour Road in fall 2011.

Results of the evaluation confirmed that the noise levels at many of the neighborhood’s homes exceeded the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) noise abatement criteria.

However, as Commissioner Christopher D. Clement Sr. previously noted, it would cost the state up to $45,000 per household to install a sound barrier, which far exceeds the state’s $30,000 per household limit.

Committee officials plan to recommend an increase to that household limit before legislators in Concord sometime this coming January and preliminary discussions indicate that the increase will likely be approved.

However, it may be a case of too little too late for the Squire Armour Road residents.

Contacted late Monday evening, Waterhouse stressed that the legislation suggested wouldn’t likely provide any immediate relief to those already affected by project noise.

Still, the committee hopes to remain active and continue working with the DOT for the foreseeable future.

“The state certainly acknowledges that noise from the project qualifies the neighborhood for a barrier, but they still haven’t met the threshold of cost versus the number of homes affected,” Waterhouse