River Hills speaks out on I-43 plans

April 23, 2014

River Hills — River Hills officials are taking a stand on the Interstate 43 reconstruction project.

After months of expressing their concerns about noise levels and storm water runoff at Department of Transportation public information meetings, the Village Board on Monday formalized its position on the I-43 expansion project by passing a resolution that asks the DOT to include sound barriers and storm water management measures to offset the increased noise and storm water runoff generated by an additional lane in each direction.

Village Manager Chris Lear said the DOT encouraged local governments to pass resolutions in support or opposition to its I-43 corridor study.

Sound barriers for others

Currently, the DOT plans to erect sound barriers on the east side of the interstate for Bayside and Glendale, but due to River Hill's low density and large lot sizes, the affluent village doesn't qualify for a sound barrier on the west side of the interstate.

River Hills officials believe an "echo effect" will cause highway noise to be bounced off the sound barrier on the east side and amplified westward toward River Hills.

"It would be bad enough if there were no sound barriers on either side, but it is made worse by the fact that our neighbors to the east, just by virtue of the fact that they zone for higher density, will have a sound barrier that may not absorb all of the sound and send that noise back to River Hills," Lear said. "It's kind of a double whammy in a way."

Although the project is slated for construction in 2019, Lear said it's important that the village make its position known early in the game.

"Once the road is reconstructed, and our neighbors to the east have their borders strengthened with sound barriers, I think the public will be pretty shocked if we don't have sound barriers as well," Lear said.

A plan for runoff

The resolution also asks for more environmental protection measures to protect the village from storm water runoff, which could negatively impact the village's streams and rivers.

Any additional storm water would only add to the existing floodplain issues experienced by some nearby homeowners, Lear said.

"During heavy flooding, there are times when the water comes up to their back door," Lear said. "The DOT study does acknowledge the impact of pollutants and increased storm water volumes, but what we are asking is that this doesn't do any additional harm and make the issue any worse than it already is."

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