By Kathianne Boniello
Nearly 30 Douglaston residents living near the Long Island Expressway have signed a petition calling on the state Department of Transportation to build a noise barrier in their neighborhood.
The petition, signed by residents over the past month, comes as residents of 54th Avenue between 248th Street and Douglaston Parkway were scheduled to meet with DOT officials to demand the noise wall.
Sound barriers have been offered to residents of Douglaston and Little Neck who live near the LIE because of the DOT’s $112 million LIE-Cross Island Parkway project. The construction was planned to reshape the interchange between the two highways.
Before the DOT constructs sound walls, the agency conducts surveys of a neighborhood to determine if residents want a barrier built. A 1999 survey of eastern Queens residents yielded such a low response rate that the DOT could not get a consensus on whether residents wanted the noise barriers.
By the time the DOT decided to recanvas the area in October, the agency had chosen not to construct two barriers out of the originally planned 12. A spokesman for the project said the two walls no longer being offered by the DOT, including sound wall #5 in Douglaston, were dogged by expensive construction costs.
But residents living near sound wall #5 have been trying to persuade the DOT to change its mind. A spokesman for the DOT said a meeting with residents about sound wall #5 was set for April 11.
The petition, signed by 29 residents of 54th Avenue between 248th Street and Douglaston Parkway, described construction of the noise barrier in question as an opportunity for residents to protect their neighborhood.
“Our life is being severely impacted by unbearable traffic noise from the Long Island Expressway Project, and it stands to worsen,” the petition said. “The quality of the life we deserve for our family is at stake.”
In 1999, DOT engineering plans show sound wall #5, designed to protect homes just east of the northbound Cross Island Parkway, was supposed to be built atop a service road retaining wall.
Residents have questioned why it would be more expensive for the DOT to build sound wall #5 and why newer plans show a change in where the sound wall could be built.
DOT spokesman Jim Wilson told the TimesLedger last month that steep slopes in the area would force the state to use homeowners’ property for the site of the wall, which boosts the cost of construction.
Residents said they do not understand why the state would have to take private property when a two-foot strip of parkland, which they claim is neglected, also sits between their plots and the retaining wall.
A city Parks Department spokeswoman said no one has approached her agency about using that land for a sound wall, and concerned residents should call Community Board 11 to get the ball rolling.
Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.