River Hills rethinking I-43 strategy

Trustees looking for arguments rather than more data

Jan. 20, 2014

River Hills — Trustees are looking for ways to sway the state Department of Transportation on its upcoming Interstate-43 expansion rather than more evidence that the expansion is a problem.

Last week, the Village Board considered funding a sound study to back up their claim that the potential expansion, and resulting increase in noise, would be detrimental to River Hills property owners. But in light of the fact that the DOT and village public works director have already measured sound levels along the freeway corridor, the board opted to go back to the drawing board on how to sway state planners.

"We don't need further corroboration that the decibels are going to be too high," Trustee Michael White said. "That's a given."

Before the board's February meeting, Village Engineer Mustafa Emir will work with a sound engineer to produce a report of potential design changes which could reduce noise levels if and when I-43 is expanded to six lanes in the River Hills area. Officials have expressed concern several times already on freeway noise and hope to convince the DOT to include several noise reducing features into the expansion project, which is slated for construction in 2019 at the earliest.

Emir admitted that efforts to sway the DOT in the past have been a "mixed bag," but in his experience the best course of action is to come to the table with a number of suggestions. The more suggestions, the better the likelihood at least some of them become incorporated into the design, he said.

Emir's suggested strategy is for village to bring forward the suggestions so that when final design takes place, River Hills' ideas are on record and could be incorporated.

"It's kind of a seed," Emir said.

Trustee Stephen Anderson said the village should find someone to lobby the state on behalf of River Hills residents.

"I'm looking for an expert who can go to Madison and talk to the DOT, the governor, whoever, and say this is disastrous, and be convincing," Anderson said.

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