Noise concerns go unheard

The road surface is set to be higher than Dale's back fence. Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS 253872_11

By Danielle Kutchel

When Dale Purton first moved into the Kingsmere estate in Berwick six or seven years ago, he was curious about his acoustic back fence.

He enquired as to its necessity and was told it was because O’Shea Road was being extended in the future.

“We thought, ‘it’s two lanes, big deal’, then a few years ago they showed us plans where it was four lanes…and now they’re building six,” he said.

The planned extension is currently under construction – and now, the road is higher than his acoustic back fence, meaning all the noise from those six lanes will come straight through to his property.

“The whole idea was the acoustic fence would block noise from wheels and engines, but now it’s going to be above our back fence,” he said.

He’s not alone: residents along O’Shea Road are desperate for some sort of noise protection from the arterial.

Earlier this year, Star News reported on residents of the Affinity housing estate, who will see the widened O’Shea Road pass within a metre of some of their back fences.

Mr Purton said he enquired with VicRoads about having a sound reduction barrier put in.

“They said ‘no, this isn’t a new road, we’ve had the land set aside for years’,” he recalled.

“They’re getting out on a technicality.”

He and his family are considering selling up and moving but believe their options for selling are limited given the imposing arterial along their back fence.

A spokesperson for Major Road Projects Victoria (MRPV), which is managing the O’Shea Road extension, said the road was “being upgraded in accordance with the VicRoads Noise Policy”.

Noise walls are not planned for the section between Clyde Road and Soldiers Road because the authority says triggers for providing them have not been met.

It’s understood the VicRoads Traffic Noise Reduction Policy is also not triggered by the extension past Soldiers Road as the land had been previously set aside prior to the building of housing estates in the area.

That’s not good enough, according to Gembrook MP Brad Battin, who has raised the issue in Parliament and urged the Minister for Transport Infrastructure – Jacinta Allan – to meet with residents and hear their concerns.

“The Andrews Labor Government and Department of Transport have continually fobbed residents off, hiding behind the jargon and wording of a policy without having the temerity to front residents and explain it,” Mr Battin told Star News.

“The current VicRoads Traffic Noise Policy is past its used-by date and not fit for purpose.

“The fact that residents are having to endure six lanes just outside their front or back fence, where in some sections it is well-above fence height, without sound barriers is evidence of that.”

Narre Warren South MP Gary Maas, whose electorate covers the area under construction, said he had asked the project team to continue to work with residents on their concerns.

“The Major Roads team make an assessment on the requirement for noise walls – and they’re now working through screening plants in many areas,” he said.

It’s expected the project will be completed in 2022.