Thursday, April 16, 2009

Helping to make a Seattle neighborhood a little quieter next to I-5

It makes sense that most of the projects we take on are about improving traffic or driver safety. And if you follow our news, you may also notice that when you hear about us doing something off of our highways or freeways, it’s usually to improve fish and wildlife habitat. Well, this weekend we’re celebrating the end of a project that’s about improving the environment for many of our human neighbors in Seattle.

Residents living along I-5 in Seattle’s Green Lake and Licton Springs have experienced increasingly louder levels of noise coming from the freeway since it was built more than 40 years ago. Back then, standards for reducing noise in the neighborhoods were lower than they are today. And as the Seattle and the Puget Sound region have grown over the past decades, there are far more tires hitting the concrete than were ever expected.

To improve the noise environment for residents of these neighborhoods, we designed and constructed three noise walls on the west side of I-5 between Fifth Avenue N.E. and N.E. 92nd Street.

We developed a great working relationship with our neighbors throughout the planning, design and construction phases. After the Legislature funded the project, we first checked in with the neighbors by conducting a poll of property owners to make sure the noise walls were something the neighborhood really wanted. The neighbors overwhelmingly said yes, and we went back to them to get their input about how the walls would look, where and how tall they would be, and ways that we could even save more trees during construction.

Now we want to say thanks for the help and the patience and we hope things are a little quieter from now on. We’ve invited residents that live near the brand new noise walls to join us this Saturday, April 18, to commemorate the improvement to the neighborhood.

Here are the details:
Post written by: Michelle Mouton

Follow up, here is a video of the event:


Anonymous said...

I lived in Eastlake when the noise wall went up there, and I have to say it made no real difference regarding the noise while adding a HUGE eyesore to the neighborhood. Why spend millions of dollars on something that is ugly and doesn't make a sustained difference for the residents?

Anonymous said...

There are a few things to keep in mind about the value of the noise wall projects under way in Seattle. First, the residents who live in that area near I-5 have been pushing for noise walls to block highway traffic noise for years. Second, the benefits of the noise walls decrease the farther you are from the wall. And finally, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Because of the high levels of traffic noise coming from I-5, the noise walls we’re building in Seattle today were at the top of our list for retrofit noise wall projects across the state. Neighbors and their legislators have worked long and hard to get the projects funded.

The residents who live closest to I-5 experience the highest and most disruptive highway traffic noise and, as a result, will benefit most from the noise walls. Closest to the noise walls, noise level reductions vary and can be up to ten or 12 decibels, this sounds about half as loud. The farther away you are from the noise wall the less noticeable the reduction – there is virtually no noise reduction at distances greater than 500 feet.

Noise walls are large, concrete structures built with the principle function of blocking out highway traffic noise. Designing these walls to be attractive to everyone is extremely challenging. For both the Eastlake noise walls and the noise walls in the Green Lake and Licton Springs neighborhoods, we’ve worked closely with neighbors to select a design pattern for the neighborhood side of the noise walls. While we do hear complaints such as yours, we also receive feedback from residents who like the way they look.

We do appreciate your concerns. The feedback we receive helps us continue to review and analyze our mission to be good neighbors and stewards of taxpayer dollars.

Michell Mouton, WSDOT

Jonathan said...

Or you could just repave the freeway

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