ODOT: Making Our Highways Quieter and Uglier One Tree at a Time

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Because we dont have enough concrete in our lives.
  • Because we don't have enough concrete in our lives.

It used to be that Cleveland’s highways provided glorious views of our sacred landscape. But the Ohio Department of Transportation’s efforts to contain noise has rendered the experience more akin to a scenic jaunt through Soviet-era Berlin.

A “noise mitigation” project under way in Old Brooklyn has neighbors up in arms about uglification of the landscape and elimination of trees. They point to the crumbling decay of barrier walls near Hopkins Airport and the seeping white stains on walls that have been dyed red in order to look more like red concrete.

ODOT spokeswoman Jocelynn Clemings admits that there’s no maintenance budget for the walls, which appear to crumble with the ease of a Ritz cracker. She adds that they’re hoping to come up with some money — that’s where you come in — to repair the broken ones.

Folks in the neighborhood also point to the elimination of dozens of trees (otherwise known as Nature’s Sound Barriers™) being cut down along the highway between Denison Avenue and West 25th Street to make way for more concrete.

“My main concern is seeing these decades-old trees brought down,” says Christopher Pekoc, an artist who has residences in Old Brooklyn and Tremont — neighborhoods on both ends of the wall. “There are alternatives, but ODOT doesn’t seem to be aware of those. My hope is that we can stop damaging and removing decades’ worth of tree growth and bring ODOT into the green 21st century.”

Clemings says alternatives such as “living walls” — similar to trees — have not been tested in Ohio.
“It sucks that ODOT has no green, sustainable alternative other than cement or aluminum walls,” says councilman Brian Cummins. “They have nothing tested, nothing in their repertoire.”

Nothing green, but they do offer a stunning red.

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