Highway 417 Noise Barriers: Other areas get upgrades, Greenfield Village has nothing

The Highway 417 noise barrier abruptly ends behind Greenfield Village, an enclave of OOE. Despite a decade of effort to extend the barrier by resident Tom Scott, above, the province continues to ignore the problem. Credit: John Dance

The Highway 417 noise barrier abruptly ends behind Greenfield Village, an enclave of OOE. Despite a decade of effort to extend the barrier by resident Tom Scott, above, the province continues to ignore the problem. Credit: John Dance

By John Dance

Greenfield Village is a lovely, leafy neighbourhood of condominiums in the northeast corner of Old Ottawa East.

And yet, even though it’s at the dead end of two quiet streets, Havelock and Montcalm, Greenfield Village suffers from excessive traffic noise.

In its backyard is the noisy Highway 417 to the south and the Nicholas Street on-ramp to the east. Unlike most other built-up stretches of the 417 there is no noise barrier buffering Greenfield Village. Just to the west of the neighbourhood the noise barrier steps down then abruptly ends.

Elsewhere along the 417 corridor, noise barriers are being upgraded. Some are growing in height from four to five metres. The improvements are celebrated by Bob Chiarelli, Ontario’s minister of infrastructure.

Over the last decade, Tom Scott, past president of the Greenfield Village condo corporation and a 25-year resident, has lobbied for a noise barrier. To date, he has been frustrated by jurisdictional overlaps of municipal and provincial governments and their unwillingness to respond to the problem.

In addition to noise from regular traffic, trucks merging onto 417 from Nicholas Street often use their engine brakes which, according to Jim Strang of nearby King’s Landing, “generate a very loud and abrupt machine gun-like noise.”

Strang said the noise from the 417 and Nicholas Street bothers King’s Landing residents, as well.

“Although the city erected a ‘No Engine Brakes’ sign on Nicholas and two years ago also reduced the Nicholas speed limit from 80k/hr to 60, truckers continue to speed and use engine brakes as they merge onto 417,” Scott said.

A decade ago, provincial officials told Scott they would not proceed with noise barriers behind Greenfield Village because of the pending construction of the Alta Vista Transportation Corridor.

However, the city has since removed the AVTC from its affordable road network. The province has made other changes – such as additional lanes – at the Nicholas-417 interchange.

So, despite numerous emails from Scott to the Ministry of Transportation, it is unclear why the province has not built the missing noise barrier for Greenfield Village.

In March 2016, Old Ottawa East Community Association president Phyllis Odenbach Sutton requested that Ottawa Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi look into the issue.

“While the OOECA would like to see the existing barrier retrofitted and a barrier erected where none currently exists as soon as possible, at a minimum, we would ask that noise level testing be conducted in this neighbourhood immediately to determine the risk to the families that live in this area,” Odenbach Sutton said.

A month later, a reply from the acting manager of engineering at the Ministry of Transportation’s Engineering Office in Kingston said: “The ministry’s future plans include replacing all of the existing metal noise barriers along the Queensway, including the noise barrier on the north side of Highway 417 from the Rideau Canal to Concord Street North (facing Harvey Street).”

But there was no good news about extending the sound barrier – the desire of Greenfield Village residents.

“An extension of the noise barrier north-easterly would be expected to provide little noise attenuation, due to the distance of the proposed noise barrier extension from Highway 417,” the ministry said.

However, the MTO committed to conducting a “new noise study.” It did not say when this would occur or whether its scope would include the stretch of 417 that affects Greenfield Village and King’s Landing.

OOECA representatives met last year with Minister Naqvi to discuss the 417 noise problem.

“We came out of the meeting feeling that our MPP was sympathetic to the issue and committed to taking action,” said Odenbach Sutton.

But the wait continues – not quietly.

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Filed in: FP, Front Page, News

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