South Augusta neighbors unhappy with possible drag strip noise

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November 20, 2006

People living near a planned drag strip in south Augusta say they will continue to fight against putting the race track in their backyards.

Hundreds of neighbors came out for activist Woody Merry's noise demonstration this afternoon.

Everyone from retired schoolteachers to their grandchildren showed up... and most of them tell News 12 they are not happy with what they heard.

"It's a lot louder than I thought it would be," one man said.

"I'm furious," said another.

To make sure the noise test was accurate, one neighbor brought his own decibel meter, certified both nationally and locally.

We watched as it tried to read the noise level from ten feet away. It read 112, 113, all the way to 119 decibels...and that's significantly lower than the racetrack is predicted to be.

Donna Kilmer cannot believe she might one day wake up to the noise she heard at the demonstration after living off of Horseshoe Road for 39 years.

"I'm heartsick about it," she said. "I'm a retired school teacher, and I thought I would have a happy quiet life out in my house, and I'm not going to have it if this goes through."

The proposed track would be in Ida Bridges' backyard.

"The noise is just unbelievable," she said. "I've been here 37 years. If I had moved here knowing the racetrack was here, that would be different. But I moved here and now the racetrack is trying to move into my neighborhood."

One angry neighbor says he doesn't understand how the project has gotten this far.

"These kind of commissioners couldn't run a two pitcher lemonade stand, and they want to invest $6 million of our money?" William Head said. "I don't think so. It's not going to happen on my watch."

Jimmy Smith, the commissioner for the area, came for the testing, and so did Commissioner Don Grantham. Both voted against the drag strip.

None of the commissioners in favor of the drag strip were there.

So how loud would the drag strip be?

Woody Merry says it would be about 145 decibels, something they couldn't even demonstrate because the sound system's speaker couldn't handle it.

If you're wondering how loud 145 decibels is, we checked a hearing-loss website. They say a jet engine up close is about 140 decibels, a jackhammer is about 125 decibels, and a thunderclap or live rock music is about 120.