Pacific Highway noise has left Valla Beach residents sleepless for three years

DECEPTIVE APPEARANCES: It might look peaceful but Lori Warren's backyard is not the haven it once was
DECEPTIVE APPEARANCES: It might look peaceful but Lori Warren's backyard is not the haven it once was

Five years ago Lori Warren moved to Valla Beach with her partner Scott and daughter Tara - for the couple who were making the break from the city, they had landed in paradise.

But not anymore ...

For the last three years, since the opening of the Pacific Highway upgrade, that paradise has been lost ... with highway noise, particularly at night when truck movements peak, affecting their daily lives and rendering sleep impossible most nights.

"I am really, really exhausted," Lori said.

"Other people are leaving, in fact most of those who were on our noise subcommittee (of the Valla Beach Residents Association) have left the area ... but we have invested so much here and we don't want to leave.

"Don't get me wrong - we are grateful for the upgrade that has made the highway safer for everyone but as a consequence, our lives and our health have been drastically impacted."

Lori and others have raised their voices about the noise with the Roads and Maritime Service and with the Member for Oxley, Melinda Pavey, which resulted in the diamond grind of a stretch of highway last year as a noise reduction means.

"It hasn't made any difference," Lori said.

"And the thing that makes this even harder to bear is that it doesn't have to be this way. There are alternatives, good ones, but they are not being looked at."

Adding weight to their arguments, acoustic consultant Ray Tumney offered his pro bono services to review the relevant noise impact reports.

His findings were damning of the Post Construction Operational Noise Report, which he said did not quantify the increases in noise levels and that the report itself was flawed.

He wrote that pavement grinding was only useful for tyre noise, when in fact the problem is with engine and exhaust noise and that responses thus far from the RMS have been general relating to the entire upgrade project rather than specific to this community.

At their last council meeting Nambucca Shire councillors voted to "make representations to the Member for Oxley supporting the request from the Valla Beach Community Association that the RMS provide information on the outcome of the diamond grinding trial as well as provide a written response to the findings of Tumney Consulting."

The mayor, Cr Rhonda Hoban, said prior to that March 28 meeting she had approached both Melinda Pavey and the RMS for responses without any success.

"We discussed the options prior to the diamond grind with the RMS and the community wanted the noise-reduction asphalt," Rhonda said.

"While ever the community is dissatisfied, we will keep representing their need to the highest levels of government."

RMS Acting Director Northern Region, Vicky Sisson said the organisation was carrying out a low noise pavement grinding trial on sections of concrete pavement on the Pacific Highway north and south of Valla Beach.

"Noise modelling has been completed and a report on the results is currently being prepared for public release," Ms Sisson said.

"A copy of the Tumney Consulting report on operational noise is also currently being reviewed by the project team, who will prepare an update for the community.

"Roads and Maritime appreciates noise is an important issue for the community and will provide an update once the noise report has been finalised, which is expected to be by the end of May."

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