RESIDENTS IN Devon are calling for an 11km stretch of the new A30 to be resurfaced less than a month after it opened.
More than 200 people living near the dual carriageway between Exeter and Honiton met on 16 August to discuss what they claim is 'excessive' noise from the new road's concrete surface. They have written to Connect, the £65M scheme's concessionaire, demanding that noise tests are carried out.
Local councillor Maureen Jones, who leads campaign group Resurface the A30, claimed residents had been 'totally and utterly amazed' by the noise generated by the road.
'I'm married to a civil engineer so I realised there would be some noise. But I never imagined that we would have to close our double glazed windows when we are half a mile away,' she said.
The public inquiry into the design, build, finance and operate project highlighted the area's sensitivity to noise but made no specific recommendations for noise reduction. Jones said RTA30 would be stepping up the pressure on Connect to carry out noise mitigation measures.
The protest is particularly embarrassing for the Government as Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott hailed the early opening of the first phase of the road on 6 August as a success and 'good news for all motorists'.
The campaign follows similar complaints by residents in Yorkshire which led to a 2.5km concrete section of the £200M A1/M1 link - also privately financed - being resurfaced by joint venture contractor Kvaerner/Balfour Beatty (NCE 18 March).
Balfour Beatty also forms part of the Connect consortium, which includes WS Atkins and German contractor Philipp Holzmann. A spokeswoman for Connect admitted that the concrete surface had been chosen to minimise maintenance over its 30-year concession period, but said noise levels were no worse than a 'standard rolled asphalt surface with coated chippings'.
She added: 'Our job has been to design and construct the new road in compliance with the Department of Transport's requirements and specification and we are confident this has been achieved.'
A spokesman for the Highways Agency said it was checking the requirements agreed for the road at the public inquiry, but that responsibility lay with Connect. The remaining 10km of the new road is due to open in the spring. About two thirds of the scheme is constructed using the concrete pavement.