Tracey Gysling is fed up with being given the run around after noise from the Pacific Motorway has made living conditions unbearable. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star
Tracey Gysling is fed up with being given the run around after noise from the Pacific Motorway has made living conditions unbearable. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star Marc Stapelberg

Hellish highway heralds hazard for Tintenbar family

FOR two years Tracey Gysling has struggled behind the scenes battling the RMS over noise abatement measures as trucks buffet her home 80m away from the Pacific Highway.

Inside her home the noise can reach 80 decibels or more as the B doubles roll down a section of highway near Ross Lane.

When the Tintenbar to Ewingsdale upgrade is complete it will get even worse as the speed limit increases to 110kmh. 

Health issues

The constant noise and sleep deprivation has had a severe impact on her health and that of her family.

"I've been trying to play down the impact to try and cope with things but I'm seeing a counsellor, I'm having health and anxiety issues, I've had dental issues and bruxism where I've ground the enamel off the teeth when I'm asleep," she said.

"As a parent, quite often I'm in tears when I put my 10-year-old to bed there and if there's a big convoy… she'll just go 'mummy I can't sleep, the trucks are so noisy'."

It wasn't until she reached the "end of my tether" that she finally decided to speak out, after exhausting all other options.

Researched before they bought

Before purchasing the Kinvara Ridge Rd property at Tintenbar, Ms Gysling and her husband Edouard did everything they could to ensure the new path of the Pacific Hwy wouldn't impede on their new property. 

The family relocated from North Queensland, picking the Northern Rivers as the perfect spot to invest in a home, enjoy semi-retirement and raise their two girls, aged 10 and 15. 

They were told by their Lennox Head real estate agent and by a senior manager at the RMS construction site in Bangalow the new Pacific Highway would be built along Saddle Road, about 70m further west of the old highway.

It was still close, but the ridge between their home and the highway would block the majority of the noise. 

To the Gysling's dismay, the new highway was built on top of the ridge, just metres from the old highway, providing a direct line of site to their house and no noise buffer.

Noise modelling

RMS agreed to conduct noise modelling on the property, however their models only show the average decibels over a set period of time, which the Gyslings say fails to accurately reflect the acute noise peaks from trucks during the night which far exceed 80 decibels. 

"When RMS finally agreed to do acoustic attenuation on the house it was grossly inadequate in scope," Ms Gysling said.

"It was simply another band-aid measure.  

"We don't want more than the neighbours, less than the neighbours, we just want whatever we're entitled to."

Ideal options

The family said ideally, RMS would construct a noise and light barrier along the Kinvara Rd section of the highway at Tintenbar and fully sound-proof of their home.

Another option would be a buyout of the property or compensation paid and have the part of the house closest to the road decommissioned. 

RMS argument

A Roads and Maritime Services spokesperson said the organisation follows strict guidelines under the NSW Environmental Protection Authority's Environment Criteria for Road Traffic Noise to ensure equality for communities impacted by road projects and to minimise the impact on affected residents. 

"Noise goals are also set as part of each project's conditions of approval," the spokesperson said.

"Extensive noise modelling found noise levels before and after the project's opening would be similar near Kinvara Ridge Road.

"At-house noise treatments were carried out on the property at Kinvara Ridge Road. "

In 2013 Roads and Maritime offered the current owners further at house noise abatement work but this offer has not yet been accepted. 

"Sound barriers are installed for dense residential areas close to the highway and this location does not meet criteria. 

"Roads and Maritime will continue to work with the resident to address concerns."  

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