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MODOT's Informational Meeting to Answer Questions About Proposed Sound Walls

Sound wall
Sound wall in Maryland/Credit Flickr: thisisbossi

MODOT is holding a public meeting tonight Thursday night to provide information on noise-reducing sound walls along James River Freeway in Springfield. As KSMU’s Samuel Crowe reports, property owners will have the chance to vote on whether or not they want these sound walls to be built.

SOUND: Cars driving on James River Freeway

Along a 1.4 mile stretch of the highway between Kansas Expressway and Campbell Avenue, MODOT will begin construction of an auxiliary ramp in each direction this spring.

As of 2011, federal regulation requires a sound study on highway noise if a new lane is constructed. Don Saiko is a project manager with MODOT in Springfield. He says the agency hired an independent consultant to conduct sound readings to determine if properties along the highway reached at least 66 decibels. That was the first requirement for a sound wall. The second is that the cost of the sound walls for each property cannot exceed $36,000. And the third, says Saiko…

“It has to reduce the decibel level by seven decibels,” Saiko said.

Saiko said the study found only one area along the stretch of highway that met both criteria – a section of properties on the south side of James River Freeway adjacent to the Quail Creek subdivision.

These concrete sound walls wouldn’t be the first in Springfield – MODOT constructed five different sections of walls along Highway 65 in May 2012. So what do homeowners think of these sound walls?

Christy Broekhoven has lived along highway 65 in south Springfield for 15 years. Her backyard faces a sound wall. She says she wasn’t a fan of the wall at first, because she liked the view of the country from her backyard. But now Broekhoven finds the walls attractive, and says they do cut down on the noise – if only a little bit. But she says the biggest advantage of the sound wall in her backyard is the added security.

“It’s really close to the highway. If you have small children, playing in the backyard, they could be gone in an instant. So we really like, more than anything, we really like the security,” Broekhoven said.

Daniel Auten also lives along Highway 65 in south Springfield. A sound wall lines the back perimeter of his yard. He says he was in favor of the 14 foot tall structure from the beginning, and that highway noise has been reduced by 50 percent.

“We also wanted it for just the visual aspect to block the highway as well,” Auten said.

So why wouldn’t people be in favor of these sound walls? Don Saiko says some homeowners don’t want them to block any sunlight that reaches their property. He also says businesses and churches might want to remain visible along the highway.

The informational meeting will be held tonight (Thursday night) at Remington’s, 1655 West Republic Road. A short presentation regarding the sound studies will be given at 5pm, after which residents will be able to talk one-on-one with MODOT engineers and submit their comments. Click here for more information. 

For KSMU News, I’m Samuel Crowe.