Noise from the construction of an off-ramp next to their backyard in Vancouver, Wash., drove Joel and Melissa Dodge to move their family to a rental home for a time. But this turned out to be just the beginning of their problems.
The Dodges' son, Dylan, who is 6 years old and autistic, started acting out when the off-ramp construction began. The Washington State Department of Transportation offered the family temporary relief by paying for the cost of the rental far from the noise, starting in February. And the quiet location reportedly has had a positive effect on Dylan.
But now that construction is finished, the Dodges said, their backyard (shown above) is still much too noisy. Before the off-ramp construction, there were tall trees between their backyard fence and the highway that the Dodges contend muffled most of the noise. Those trees were removed, though, and the new off-ramp goes right up to their fence.
As if the noise wasn't enough, there's also a safety issue. According to The Columbian, the couple is worried that a vehicle might enter the off-ramp too quickly and come flying through the guardrail and their fence, into their yard.
The Dodges (pictured at left) who can't afford to cover the cost of the rental as well as pay their mortgage, have asked WSDOT to buy their property. But the agency said its hands are tied."We don't have the ability to purchase homes because of people's health situation," WSDOT engineer Bart Gernhart said. "It doesn't mean they can't sell their home."
But the Dodges argue that they can't sell their home. Even before the addition of the off-ramp, the value of their home dropped during the housing market crash, and they are $55,000 underwater on their mortgage. And because of the off-ramp, they said, they feel like they wouldn't even be able to rent it. The WSDOT, meanwhile, has determined that the ambient noise isn't loud enough to justify a noise wall.
"Come here. Stand in our yard," Melissa told The Columbian. "Imagine your children playing here."
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