Meeting focuses on Interstate noise barriers

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Jim Leute
Thursday, August 22, 2013

JANESVILLE—Several hundred people affected by proposed noise barriers along Interstate 90/39 will have an opportunity Tuesday to ask questions before they cast ballots in support or opposition.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation will stage a public information meeting to discuss the nine barriers proposed for the expansion project's central segment, which runs from County O to the Dane County line.

Derek Potter, the segment's project manager, said the meeting is primarily for potential wall neighbors: property owners, renters and those living within 500 feet of each wall.

“But we're not going to turn anyone away,” Potter said.

While it's been cut into three segments, the entire Interstate expansion runs about 45 miles from the Illinois state line to the Beltline in Madison.

Built in the early 1960s, all of the 11 interchanges along the corridor have outdated design features that contribute to safety concerns, the department has determined. By 2030—with no corrective action—the department expects all three segments of the corridor will be operating with an unstable traffic flow and stop-and-go conditions.

The expansion project will start in 2015 and wrap up in 2021. Crews will:

-- Reconstruct and expand the Interstate from four to six lanes and reconfigure all 11 interchanges.

-- Expand the Interstate to eight lanes—four lanes in each direction—from Avalon Road south of Janesville to the Highway 26 interchange on the city's north side.

In addition to a variety of different interchanges, the department is proposing nine noise barriers, most of which will be 16 feet high and run contiguously.

The department estimates the cost of the barriers at $2.2 million per mile per side of the highway.

Federal guidelines mandate that for a noise barrier to be constructed it must be feasible, reasonable and approved by a majority of people who live nearby.

The department has determined the nine walls are feasible and reasonable, and now it's up to affected property owners and residents to cast their ballots.

Those affected received barrier information, a ballot and an invitation to Tuesday's meeting.

For each owner-occupied residence, the owner gets one vote. For non-owner occupied residences, the owner and the resident each get one vote.

Ballots are due back to the department by Friday, Sept. 27, and the majority of votes per noise barrier wall will determine the outcome.

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