Neighbors Welcome Sound Walls Along James River Freeway

By Brett Martin |

Published 03/21 2014 05:47AM

Updated 03/21 2014 07:13AM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- As traffic continues to fill our roadways in the Ozarks, MoDOT is doing what it can to limit the noise near the busiest streets.
MoDOT builds sound walls like these along Highway 65 in other areas that are growing or when it wants to add more lanes to roads.

Several factors go into effect before a sound wall can be put in place.  For instance, the sound level, the number of properties impacted and those impacted have to vote in favor of the wall.

Even though its only eight inches thick, it can cut the noise level in half from one side to the other.

David Howell lives in the Quail Creek subdivision and says the noise from the nearby James River Freeway is unbearable at times.
"We are sitting on a patio and we're like 10 feet a part and its hard to hear then because of the roar so you have to sit close," he says.

Construction began on sound walls just feet from his property last week. Don Saiko is the project manager for MoDOT.
"We have them along Route 65 and now this section of James River Freeway."

Saiko says they conduct sound tests anytime they expand a road.
"Anywhere that you see that we are going to be widening the road or changing the road in a new location, we have to do a sound study."

For an area to be considered for sound walls, it must meet a certain criteria, Saiko explains.
"You have meet at least a 66 decibel level to actually start looking at to get a sound wall. You have to be able to reduce the decibel by 7 decibels."

While 66 decibels doesn't sound like much, it's almost the same noise level as a lawnmower 100 feet away or a dishwasher in a room nearby.

Saiko says a plus for the James River Freeway sound wall is the rock side already along there.
"This area where we are going to be building it, the wall is only 8-10 feet tall. So you've got a built in wall with the rock cut."

Saiko says the number of households the wall will benefit is a big factor as well.
"The wall can't be over 36,000 per benefited receptor, now in this case we had 15 receptors."

For David Howell, he's pleased his route fits the bill and should be done just in time for warm weather.
"Especially since summer and spring and you know, we are going to get out."

Saiko says MoDOT chose to paint the wall to help clean up anytime someone vandalizes it.

He says there currently  are not any other planned sound wall projects.  But as more roads are expanded, it could change.

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