Despite a state freeze in new highway projects, the construction of highway noise barriers for the Timberview community on Interstate 95 will proceed as promised, said a spokesman for Gov. William Donald Schaefer.
"The governor has given very explicit directions for the secretary of transportation to proceed ahead," said Paul Schurick, Schaefer's press secretary.
"We're very, very pleased to hear this. We're still very anxious to have this noise reduced," said Timberview resident Barbara Kendrick after being told the project would stay on schedule.
Kendrick, whose backyard backs up to I-95, is co-coordinator of Families AgainstNoise, which represents the 42-home community near Elkridge.
The group last year lobbied elected officials to get the project back on track after federal transportation cuts forced the state to delay it.The State Highway Administration told residents in 1985 that the project would be put up for bids before July 1990.
Residents had complained for years that the constant roar of cars and trucks had caused stress, deprived them of sleep and made it impossible to conduct a conversation with the windows open.
Four days before the Sept. 11 primary election, the governor and a host of state and county officials showed up in Timberview to proclaim that the barriers would be built by this summer, with $400,000 from the state Transportation TrustFund and $200,000 in county money committed by former County Executive M. Elizabeth Bobo.
But news in December that the governor had frozen all new transportation construction left the community wondering if the state would once again fall short of its promise.
"We didnot know if we were affected by the freeze," Kendrick said, adding that even after being told by a reporter that the project was still on, "we have not received any word, so officially we don't know what the status is."
As of Tuesday, residents still had no response from state officials to inquiries about the project.
On Jan. 14, FAN members hand-delivered a letter to Transportation Secretary O. James Lighthizer, and on Jan. 17 County Executive Charles I. Ecker handed Schaefer a letter from the community asking about the project.
Beverly Wilhide, Ecker's assistant, said the county executive was committedto seeing the project through "as long as we have state cooperation."
Timberview residents met with SHA engineers Jan. 15 to discuss the engineering work that had already been done on the project, including the wall's design and noise readings for each house in the neighborhood, Kendrick said.
She said the concrete wall will be 16 to 18feet tall and 1,600 feet long.
Noise levels at her house measured74 decibels, compared with the 68-decibel state limit for residential noise, she said, adding that she was told the wall would lower thatnoise 10 to 12 decibels.
Kendrick said Charles B. Adams, SHA landscape architecture chief, told residents of the construction freeze and that he did not know the status of their project.