10/15/2013 04:54 EDT | Updated 12/15/2013 05:12 EST

Laval's $3M living sound barrier dying of neglect

A sound barrier between a residential street and the Laurentian autoroute made of willow trees cost Laval $3-million to plant — is dying less than a decade after it was planted.

The trees that were meant to help cut the sound of traffic are now almost all dying or dead. They were planted in three phases between 2005 and 2009.

“For $3-million, can we look at something nice when we leave the house?” asked Luce Mélançon, a resident of Guillemette Street, next to the highway.

Her neighbour André Legault feels the same way.

“It’s money that was wasted, in my opinion, because it wasn’t maintained,” he said.

When the willow trees were healthy, the living sound barrier did its job and absorbed traffic noise from the highway, Mélançon said.

But Legault said the city never properly took care of the plants, and snow plows routinely dump snow on them in the winter.

Both residents would like to see the city replant the trees or build another wall to replace it.

Montreal horticulturalist Richard Beaulne thinks there could be an even easier fix, though.

“It appears they used two species, and one is not as hardy as the other one. What I’d propose is to take the hardier species and introduce it where the ... less hardy species is,” Beaulne said.

With a little weeding, Beaulne said the trees could take root quite quickly, at a much lower of a cost than replacing it with another wall.

The City of Laval did not return our messages. Still, Mélançon and Legault hope whoever is elected in the municipal election will be motivated to clean up the area.