‘Can’t take this’: Regina residents call on city to address Ring Road vehicle noise

Regina city council has approved plans to draft a new Roadway Noise Attenuation Policy. The current policy was published in 1990. Adrian Raaber / Global News

After decades of dealing with increasing roadway noise, one Glencairn resident is demanding the City of Regina diminish the din.

Glencairn resident Wayne Erhardt measures noise levels outside of his east Regina home. Adrian Raaber / Global News

“You talk and nobody hears anybody. That’s how bad it gets here,” said Wayne Erhardt, who moved onto Grosvenor Street in 1977.

He says construction on the portion of Ring Road running behind his house began in 1985 and that noise levels have been increasing since then. He says motorcycles on the northbound on-ramp from Dewdney Avenue, which runs right behind his house, are the biggest culprit. Erhardt even bought a decibel metre to measure just how loud traffic has become.

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A 2017-18 City of Regina traffic study estimated 68000 vehicles drive that stretch of Ring Road every single day. The study estimates the on-ramp itself sees around 6,500 vehicles per day.

“Around 4:30 to 5:30 when the traffic is really bad, I’m sure I got five or six tests that were over 100 decibels,” Erhardt said.

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Erhardt says at times the noise can wake him and his wife up at night, and makes having dinner on the deck or spending time in the backyard unpleasant.

“Noise pollution can cause annoyance and aggression, hypertension, high stress levels, tinnitus, hearing loss, sleep disturbances and other harmful effects,” he wrote in a delegation submission to the Sept. 29 Regina city council meeting.

“We also deal with an abundance of dust and exhaust from Ring Road.”

Erhardt wasn’t the only Grosvenor Street resident signed up to address councillors Wednesday.

Henry Lunn said his health and mental wellbeing is affected by the noise as well.

“Being a homeowner with Ring Road in my back yard can be deafening at the best of times,” he wrote to council.

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“We are unable to sit in our backyards, have our windows open, hear the TV in the evening nor generally enjoy our home.”

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Councillors spent over an hour Wednesday discussing ways to update the city’s Roadway Noise Attenuation Policy, which made its way to this week’s agenda following a request to review the policy made back in 2019.

The city administration report on the policy recommended council approve the drafting of plans for a $700,000 pilot project which would see a small noise wall built somewhere in the city starting next year.

Concerns were raised about the cost of the pilot itself, along with any future noise attenuation development. The city estimates, for example, that it would cost at least $16 million to build 13 km of noise attenuation walls in problem areas of the city, and that the cost could be as much as $37 million depending on methods and materials used.

It estimates that building walls at the Dewdney Avenue and Ring Road intersection alone would cost $1 million a side.

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Ultimately, though, the recommendations were passed 8-3, with councillors Landon Mohl and Terina Shaw voting against along with Mayor Sandra Masters.

The pilot, which would also explore other options for noise attenuation, will need final approval during 2022 budget deliberations before it comes to fruition.

Council also directed city administration to, if the pilot project goes ahead, develop an updated Roadway Noise Attenuation Policy and implementation strategy in mid-2024.

The current policy, which was developed in 1990, specifies a roadway noise limit of 65 decibels averaged over a 24-hour period. Since its approval, no noise walls have actually been developed.

Health Canada estimates that noise-induced hearing loss begins at 70 decibels, and increases with the duration of exposure.

Speaking before the meeting, Ward 5 Councillor John Findura said a range of methods will likely be needed to affordably reduce noise for residents across the city.

“It could be trees, it could be reducing speed, we need to get police involved (to ticket drivers operating vehicles creating excessive noise). We can’t solve these issues a lone I think,” he said.

“A timeline? That’s a good question.”

Click to play video: 'City of Regina moving along with preliminary process for relocating train tracks on Ring Road' City of Regina moving along with preliminary process for relocating train tracks on Ring Road
City of Regina moving along with preliminary process for relocating train tracks on Ring Road – Aug 4, 2021

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