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'Too noisy' A1/M1 claim forces new studies

INTOLERABLE NOISE levels on a concrete section of the new A1/M1 privately financed motorway link near Leeds have forced concessionaire Yorkshire Link to start additional noise surveys along the route this week.

Local residents bombarded the Kvaerner/Balfour Beatty joint venture contractor with complaints less than a month after the £200M road opened. They insist the operator failed to comply with public inquiry recommendations to use quieter surfaces in 'sensitive locations'.

Local MP Colin Burgon plans to meet roads minister Lord Whitty to vent his anger, having already raised the problem in a letter to Transport Minister John Reid. He wants the road resurfaced with quieter, flexible asphalt surfacing and suggests a liaison committee be formed between the contractor and local residents. In his letter to Reid, Burgon demanded to know when Yorkshire Link will alter its 'design fault'. He was also concerned that 'success of this commercially driven project should not be achieved at the expense of local people's quality of life'.

Most of the new 18km link road is formed of continuously reinforced concrete pavement to give a virtually maintenance free carriageway. But where the route runs close to housing, the CRCP's 260mm concrete layer is topped by 40mm flexible stone mastic asphalt to reduce tyre noise.

Complaints have come from about 20 residents of Garforth, a small town east of Leeds and just a few hundred metres from the new all-concrete carriageway. They maintain that the 1993 public inquiry recommended the quieter flexible surface should be used on the road as it passed Garforth.

In his report, the inspector recommended: 'I firmly conclude that the quieter road surfaces now under review by the department should be considered at least for the sections of the proposals passing Austhorpe, Garforth and Aberford, which in my view should be regarded as sensitive locations.'

But joint venture project manager Keith Sleightholme denied that flexible surfacing should have been used in all three locations. 'We were asked only to consider the possibility, and our consultant Babtie concluded that expected noise levels at Garforth would not be high enough - as defined at the public inquiry - to warrant any significant measures.'

He expected this week's noise survey to confirm this view and thought it unlikely that the carriageway would need to be resurfaced. If noise levels at any property in Garforth were higher than originally predicted, Sleightholme said, high quality double glazing would more likely be considered.

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