Douglaston neighbors battle DOT for sound barrier

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A group of Douglaston residents has accused the state Department of Transportation of failing to protect their peaceful bedroom community from the roar of the Long Island Expressway.

The DOT was required to offer sound barriers to residents affected by noise from the LIE as part of the Cross Island Parkway-LIE interchange project. A 1999 survey of eastern Queens residents yielded such a low response rate that the state DOT could not get a consensus on whether residents wanted the noise barriers.

Seeking a higher response rate, the agency recanvassed the area in October and November. Only people identified in DOT studies as being affected by noise from the LIE, or those who would be affected once the current construction is completed, were surveyed.

Jim Wilson, a DOT design supervisor for the project, said Friday residents voted in favor of most of the noise barriers the agency sought to build along the LIE in Little Neck, Douglaston and Oakland Gardens. Wilson said the DOT would not begin noise wall construction until at least spring of 2003.

Of the 12 noise walls originally offered to residents, the DOT now has said two were no longer cost-effective to build.

One group of residents living on the north side of the LIE between 248th Street and Douglaston Parkway — who were told their sound wall, #5, could not be constructed — said they do not believe the DOT.

Paul Dimino, a 17-year resident of Douglaston, and Peter Asadourian, who has lived in the neighborhood for five years, said they were angered by the state’s decision not to build sound wall #5.

“We deserve and have a right to this opportunity of noise reduction for our families,” the pair said in a letter to state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose).

Dimino said the DOT’s reasons for not wanting to build the sound walls, including cost of construction and a mixed response from residents for that area, do not jibe.

“It doesn’t make sense to me,” Dimino said.

Both he and Asadourian said all of the residents living adjacent to the LIE along 54th Avenue between 248th Street and Douglaston Parkway want the wall built.

In addition, the pair said there is a two-foot swath of property between the rear of their lots and the LIE service road which is neither maintained nor used by the public.

“They made people think they’d have to give up their property” to get a sound wall built, Dimino said.

Dimino, Asadourian and seven other residents have written to the DOT protesting the decision not to build sound wall #5.

In 1999, DOT engineering plans show sound wall #5, which was to protect homes just east of the northbound Cross Island Parkway, was supposed to be built atop a service road retaining wall.

Wilson said the DOT has met with the residents and was expected to schedule another meeting within a couple of weeks regarding the fate of sound wall #5.

“There are certain thresholds beyond which the barrier is no longer cost-effective to build,” Wilson said, citing cost, difficulty of construction and how many residents would benefit from a noise wall as some of those ‘thresholds.’

Steep slopes in the areas where sound wall #5 was originally to be built would make it hard to build there, Wilson said.

Residents said protecting the neighborhood from the noise of the LIE should be the paramount concern.

Asadourian said noise from the expressway is “a form of pollution. Would they say, ‘Do you want clean water? Let’s vote?’”

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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