Residents Get Noisy About Highway Sound Barriers
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Although over a mile away, the changes to the Zoo Interchange will have an impact on Wauwatosa West and the surrounding neighborhood until 2016.
At a meeting held at Eisenhower Elementary on Wednesday, September 10, members of the public, representatives from Wisconsin Department of Transportation and elected officials from Wauwatosa discussed the proposed changes to the Center Street Bridge and the installation of sound barriers along 113th and 114th street. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation – Zoo Interchange Team – Chris Zacharias and Bill Mohr organized and led the meeting.
The main subject of discussion was the installation of noise barrier walls on either side of the highway.
Some in the audience expressed concerns about replacing the trees and shrubs with a noise wall on 112th and 113th Street.
“You don’t even know the freeway’s there,” said Diane Perona, resident of the 2600 block of 113th Street. Karen Brenton, resident of the same block, said that the wall would be an eyesore. Perona said that they would much prefer the foliage to an ugly wall.
Perona also worried about property value. 113th Street is the only street between 124th and the freeway to have a sidewalk. When a bike lane was suggested, many residents jumped to their feet and argued the point. Perona says a bike lane would widen the street, infringing on their property which already includes a sidewalk. Perona also said that not enough people drive on 113th to make it a hazard to bikes.
State noise technician John Jaeckel agreed. “A lot [is about] public reception,” he said. The project team won’t be disappointed if ideas of a bike lane and noise wall were shot down. In fact, their professional protocol is completely indifferent to whether or not the noise walls get installed. Jaeckel gave one reason for this meeting: the project team is legally required to tell the public about mitigation opportunities. No other reason was given.
Bill Mohr, the project supervisor, said that the meeting’s purpose was to simply bounce a few ideas off residents, which they are required to do before proceeding. Later, the walls will be put to a vote by the residents who live within 500 feet of the freeway. These votes will be weighted, said Jaeckel. If you live 50 feet from the proposed wall, you’ll have more voice than someone who lives 450 feet away. A specific date for determining the installation of noise walls has not been determined.
Regardless if noise walls are installed, the current greenery along the highway will be removed to provide access for construction vehicles.
by Spencer Johnson – edited by Mark Salamone – photographs by Dusty Hartl