The backyard on Elkridge's Woodvalley Road is carpeted by deep grass and shaded by tall, leafy trees. It would be a pleasant place if not for the sharp-edged roar, punctuated by the banging of truck axles and grinding of truck gears, that drowns out all other sounds.

Barbara Kendrick and her neighbors say noise from adjacent Interstate 95 intrudes into their every waking moment at home. Bad in the daytime, the roar of traffic grows worse in the early morning hours as night-traveling tractor-trailers crowd the highway, they said.

To their dismay, the residents learned recently that a state-promised noise barrier is on hold indefinitely because of a funding shortage. They've responded by launching a campaign to force the State Highway Administration to build the 1,300-foot barrier.

"Commitments were made. We feel they owe us this," said June Cobb, a member of the neighborhood group Families Against Noise and a longtime Timberview resident.

State Highway Administration officials confirm that they told residents in 1985 that the barrier would be built, but point out that they couldn't have foreseen drastic federal budget cuts. Reductions mandated by the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings budget act cut the state's noise barrier funding by 20 percent, said Charlie Adams, chief of the highway administration's Bureau of Landscape Architecture Division.

The planned Timberview noise barrier is one of 10 that have been put on hold because of budget cuts, Adams said. A total of $30 million is needed to build the barriers, but the highway administration is authorized to spend a little over $4 million a year on them, he said. The noise barriers now compete with highway and bridge repair projects for funding.

"We had to make some decisions," Adams said. "When it comes down to it, issues of public safety take precedence over noise barriers."

Residents say the noise was tolerable until the Fort McHenry Tunnel opened in 1985, causing a surge in the truck traffic using that portion of the interstate. Noise from the trucks now is "almost unbearable," Cobb said. "It seems there's so much more truck traffic," she said. "Some of the trucks even rattle my window."

The residents say they can't use their back yards for social activities.

"People are here less than five minutes and they ask, 'How can you stand this?' " Kendrick said.

Lately, she said, she's noticed unpleasant side effects of living with the constant roar. "I clench my teeth, and {have} a feeling of being uptight," she said. "I find myself thinking, 'If I could just stop it.' It's so stressful."

Resident Sylvester Miller's home on Handley Drive sits at the top of a hill about a quarter-mile from the interstate. The noise from traffic travels unimpeded toward his home, according to Miller.

"It's like an amphitheater up there," the retired U.S. Coast Guard supervisor said. "My yard is useless, outside of growing grass. If I want peace, I go to a park somewhere."

State Highway Administrator Hal Kassoff said he sympathizes with the Timberview residents but has to juggle their concerns with those of other communities waiting for overdue noise barriers.

The residents say they've already waited too long. They've enlisted the aid of local politicians. State Del. William C. Bevan said he is working to secure funding for the noise barrier from the federal government.

Several weeks ago, Kendrick and her neighbors threw a community picnic. After about 30 minutes, Kendrick said, County Executive Elizabeth Bobo said the noise was giving her a headache.