How Your Sound Wall Sausage Gets Made

by

comment

Picture_1126.png

Any mom, pop, Bob, Jane, or little Mary can take one glance at the sound walls bordering the highway and realize in just a few seconds that they are both useless and mighty expensive.

As sound walls began popping up years ago, plenty of journalists cast a wary eye toward the concrete monstrosities, finding that yes, they are expensive (more than $1 million per mile), yes, they are useless according to many studies, yes, few residents actually care about them, and yes, ODOT installs them just about everywhere anyway.

A fresh batch of outrage is in order thanks to Bob Dyer's recent ABJ piece on a section of sound walls on I-77 that were torn down and will be rebuilt for the third time. Yes, the third time. The first version began to crumble and sink in just three months.

Version III, which will cost another $409,000 according to the piece, is necessitated because one resident called complaining that noise was still too loud and ODOT sent someone out who discovered... well, just read for yourself:

“It was determined that the existing noise-wall section does not block the line of sight to all I-77 traffic from the first floors of the existing houses.”

The line of sight? I thought these things were sound walls!

Well, ODOT says, its regulations call for the walls to block the view, too.

Wait, it gets even better.

The reason ODOT didn’t comply with its own regulation in the first place is that when the engineering wizards drew up the plan, they mistook the walkout basements for first floors, and mistook the first floors for second floors.

I swear I am not making this up.

So now our tax dollars are being used to yank out a 5-year-old wall, which was 7 feet high, and build a new wall, which will be 9 feet high.

The wall also will be lengthened by 180 feet.

Dyer has plenty of other horribly depressing details, including who ODOT polls in communities to determine whether a wall should be built and the small, small fraction of residents who care enough to respond to the inquiry.

We won't even get into the sound wall on I-71 southbound just before the 176 split, which is a debacle on a whole other level.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at news@clevescene.com.

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.