Driving on LBJ Freeway while it's under construction is pure misery. Living next to it, as Laraine Schaffer and her neighbors have discovered over the past three years, is pure hell.
Schaffer's home is in the 12000 block of High Meadow Drive in far Northwest Dallas, a street that backs up to Interstate 635. Since construction on the road began in spring of 2011, residents there have endured skull-pounding noise, obnoxiously bright floodlights, and, according to Schaffer, tens of thousands of dollars in damage to homes and property.
The catalog of grievances is long. It started with the temporary removal of a fence separating the homes from the highway service road, a circumstance drivers took advantage of by cutting through the alley at high speeds. WFAA ran a report at the time.
Then, the LBJ Infrastructure Group put a construction staging area next door. The dust came shortly thereafter, clogging her home air filter so thoroughly that it had to be changed every three or four days. New critters started showing up, unfamiliar bugs and possums Schaffer figured were fleeing the noise and activity.
The real headaches came when crews began punching holes into the ground for concrete support beams. The shaking, often in the middle of the night, was strong enough to send objects clattering from shelves. Her foundation began to shift; her house now slopes in two directions from her hallway. Cracks began appearing in the drywall, and they kept getting bigger. Schaeffer says one is now large enough that she can stick her hand through. Several neighbors have experienced similar problems.
Schaffer has been photographing the damage since construction began. Still, it will be an uphill slog to establish a definitive link between the property damage and the construction project.
As LBJ Express spokeswoman Heather Delapp put it in a statement to Telemundo last month (translated with the help of Google), "we take all complaints very seriously, but we have no evidence to suggest that there is damage to any property in this area as a result of the construction."
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That's not stopping Schaffer and her neighbors from trying. To assist, they've enlisted veteran rabble rouser Carlos Quintanilla, who has helped formulate a list of demands:
- Repair any home that was damaged by 635 Construction
- Remove high power beams that shine on to homeowners rooms at 2 a.m.
- No construction after 8 p.m.
- Eliminate road bumps
- Inform homeowners of the future schedule for construction on 635.
- Erect a higher wall.
Fat chance, right? There are, however, a couple of things that are certain: With Quintanilla on board, the debate won't be quiet. Also, living next to LBJ is unspeakably awful.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.