Noise walls a rarity here

The in basket: Isamu Nagasawa, who lives on the slope between Highway 3 and Chico Way near Silverdale, asked if there was any chance of getting a noise wall built to deaden the racket that floods his neighborhood from freeway traffic.

“We have been living with this thing for 20 years now,” he said even way back then, “and I see all these noise barrier things going up. We are the third street from Newberry Hill Road.  We can see the trucks going by.”

The out basket: There are no noise walls planned along Highway 3 at present, Lisa Copeland of the state Department of Transportation’s Olympic Region says,

Such walls are most commonly built as part of a highway enlargement project and run about $4 million per mile, money the state could otherwise spend on safety upgrades.

Building of a noise wall to protect an existing neighborhood without an accompanying highway project is possible, but uncommon. For one thing, the rules preclude such a project to shield a neighborhood built after May 14, 1976. I can’t say how a mix of homes built before and after that, as on the Chico hillside, would be evaluated.

The neighborhood also would have to meet noise impact criteria to be considered for placement on the retrofit list. There can be objections to noise walls, including loss of vegetation and views, and topography can interfere with their  installation.

You can learn more than you probably want to know about noise walls, the likelihood of getting one in your area, alternatives and those noise impact criteria by going online to www.wsdot.wa.gov/ and filling in Noise Walls in the search box.

I suspect many of you are saying, well, what’s that they’ve built on Highway 3 surrounding the rebuilt Westpark low-income housing near Loxie Eagans Boulevard in West Bremerton.

Well, that’s a noise wall alright, but not a state Department of Transportation project.

The department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, required the noise fence in providing money for the reconstruction.

Mike Brown, development project manager for the Bremerton Housing  Authority, says the authority’s portion of the wall is finished, but it is only about 32 percent of the walls ultimate length of 2,650 feet. It averages 12 feet in height.

It will continue northward to near the pedestrian overpass, stop for a distance where the hillside serves the same purpose as the wall, then continue to near Arsenal Way. That part of the project will be privately developed, as will the housing behind it, and the builder will have to build that part of the noise wall, he said..

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