Citizens complain to Oregon Department of Transportation and Dundee city officials that traffic on thoroughfare is keeping them up at night

GARY ALLEN - The bypass, where it passes by a neighborhood in southern Dundee, has raised the ire of some residents who claim that ODOT reneged on its plans to address noise on the thoroughfare.

Some Dundee residents, who complain of the roar of traffic emanating from the Newberg-Dundee bypass at night, have complained to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Dundee Mayor David Russ. The residential neighborhoods are located close to and along Parks Drive, with some homes up to 500 feet from the bypass.

Resident Isaiah Cox began voicing his concern in 2014 about noise and the bypass and inquired to the City Council if there was going to be any mitigation in that area. According to Dundee council minutes from July 2014, an ODOT official advised that they would create "berms planted with a mix of conifers, deciduous trees and native shrubs," but the berms were eliminated from the final design for the project and never constructed.

Later in 2015, Cox attended meeting after meeting to follow the design and direction of the bypass and continued to inquire if any sound reduction mitigation would be placed in the neighborhood. Cox called and emailed ODOT several times, without any results.

After the bypass was completed Cox noticed that the noise in his area increased, including the sound of engine brakes on trucks. Cox polled his neighbors to see if they were having the same problem and created a group to discuss the noise with the city of Dundee and ODOT.

"My family and I have been following up with the issue of noise levels since 2014," resident Francis Kungu said in an email distributed among neighbors. "We were in constant communication with (ODOT senior project leader) Ms. Kelly Amador regarding the Newberg-Dundee bypass noise level analysis. She would however, brush off our concerns by referring to the pre-analysis that was done prior to the operation of the bypass. We are requesting a post-analysis to be carried out and a noise abatement measure to be done for our neighborhood."

The stream of emails started to flow between neighbors and later ODOT project manager Tony Snyder joined in the conversation to act as the contact person between the state agency and residents.

"Tony Snyder has been assigned to work on the particular issue. He was our project manager on the Newberg part of the Dundee bypass and knows the area real well," Louis Torres, ODOT public affairs specialists, said.

In the meantime, residents are using their own methods to measure the sound emanating from the bypass. The sound detectors display in decibels the ambient noise level and are compared to standards set by the federal government for noise health.

An ODOT manual states that "Dundee requirements are not to exceed 50 (decibels) between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m."

In January, resident Howard Bell took readings between 5:15 a.m. and 5:25 a.m. of 41.7, 61.2 and 68.4 decibels.

"The noise consultant and our ODOT noise expert are having discussions about the details of the first noise model and where the noise levels should be taken for comparison to the results in the models," Snyder replied in an email to Bell. "I had started on the map of the noise complaints. My original map was centered on the neighborhoods close to Parks Drive. The locations have multiplied and now there are a handful of complaints up by Fifth Street, one on the west side of OR 99W, and some for three neighborhoods in Newberg. I have to revise and expand my map to show those locations as well."

While the emails were flying back and forth, Mayor David Russ decided to include the topic on the agenda of a recent council meeting and made a statement: "ODOT must follow specific rules to determine if a wall would benefit a neighborhood or not. If the wall does not show a certain level of benefit, the federal government will not allow federal funds to be used on a wall in that location. Both ODOT and the federal government use the same procedure in the analysis."

Inquiries as to the proper process to evaluate the noise is in the works at ODOT.

"They are going to have to be patient, because of the process," Torres said. "We will have to do certain official things and probably will go out to do our own sound levels. The federal government sets up the rules for sound mitigation; we have to justify that with the government."

In the meantime, ODOT is setting a time to meet with the community and discuss what that process is going to be.

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