River Hills forgoes I-43 sound study

Board says the study is not worth the expense

Feb. 25, 2014

River Hills — The Village Board last week unanimously rejected a proposal for a sound study aimed at swaying the state Department of Transportation to include sound-mitigating features in an upcoming potential Interstate 43 expansion project.

Officials have repeatedly criticized the project, which would add lanes in the River Hills area and is slated for 2019 at the earliest, for a probable increase in freeway traffic noise and, therefore, detrimental effects on property owners and property values along the freeway.

In order to convince the DOT to include sound-reducing measures in the project the board had considered commissioning a sound study to outline the severity of the problem, but in January decided any study should produce a set of sound reduction measures the village could suggest to the DOT.

To that end, the board was considering a proposal from acoustic engineering consultant Michael Hankard, who offered to gather existing information, predict noise levels resulting from the project, and report on sound-reducing measures like barriers and berms, lowering of the freeway, speed reductions, different pavement types, and a sound-absorbing design of a retaining wall proposed for the east side of the interstate. According to Hankard, the study would take six to eight weeks and cost $15,500.

Village Engineer Mustafa Emir said the study could get the DOT's attention.

"If you wish to rattle some cages, this is how we do it," Emir said.

However, the board was not convinced that the price tag was justified, given that the DOT has told them some of the design options included in the proposed study are already off the table.

Trustee Michael White said the DOT has said "point blank" that sound barriers and berms won't be included, and that lowering the freeway is cost prohibitive.

"There's nothing a consultant can say that's going to change that," White said.

Trustee R. David Fritz agreed and suggested that Public Works Director Kurt Fredrickson could approach the DOT on the village's behalf.

"To get these types of potential mitigation measures voiced by us, we don't need this guy for fifteen grand," Fritz said.

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