After a group of residents from Toms River petitioned the New Jersey Turnpike Authority for a sound wall, the NJTA is meeting them halfway.

A letter was sent to Todd Road homeowners explaining though they don’t fit the requirements for a sound wall, during the NJTA’s shoulder expansion project, sound dampening pavement will be installed and an effort will be made to prevent trees from being cut down.

Tom Feeny, Spokesman for the State Turnpike Authority, says the construction project is to expand the shoulders, not add additional lanes; so no additional traffic will be added.

“When the work is done, the roadway will be about six feet farther away from Todd Road. It’s not moving closer, it’s moving farther away.” Says Feeny, noting the net result will be less noise.

Todd Road neighborhood representative Natasha Martinez has asked for a sound wall to be built, however Feeny notes there are very specific criteria are needed.

“The noise levels have to be above 66 decibels or there has to be an increase of at least ten decibels because of a project and it doesn’t meet either of those two criteria. “

Martinez said they wanted the wall to mitigate the noise, pollution, and danger that would be caused from cutting the few remaining trees separating the community and highway to build a retention basin.

Todd Road residents have expressed safety concerns, saying if more trees are removed it gives them less buffer if a vehicles losses control off the parkway. Feeny believes even if trees do have to be cut down, the larger area of the shoulder and the large retention basin will do a better job stopping wayward vehicles.

He notes the sound barriers aren’t meant to prevent collisions or even stop exhaust emissions.

“We don’t make these decisions willy nilly, there are objective criteria to see what place gets a noise barrier. I mean noise barriers aren’t mean to keep cars out of backyards.”

Feeny says they will work with Department of Environmental Protection to try and preserve the trees, relocating the retention basin or finding some other way to control runoff.

He adds the open graded “quiet pavement” has been shown to reduce tire noise by five decibels. In a letter sent to residents from the NJTA, it states “generally, a three decibel reduction is perceived as reducing the noise by half.”

Feeny says he doesn’t know what stage talks with the DEP are at, but notes residents will be informed if an alternate solution can be reached.