Neighbors' opinions range wide on need, desire for sound barriers

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Marcia Nelesen
Sunday, September 16, 2012

— When Fred Goodsir moved into a home at 1225 Sommerset Court near Interstate 90/39 about 45 years ago, people asked: "How do you stand the traffic?"

"And we'd say, 'What traffic?'" Goodsir recalled recently.

That's not the answer he and his wife give anymore.

"Back then, it wasn't 24/7," Goodsir said. "It wasn't that bad before."

The view in the front of Goodsir's home is of houses clustered around a cul de sac isolated from nearby East Milwaukee Street.

In the back, traffic whizzes by about 130 feet from the house. Goodsir could throw a hardball from his backyard and hit the concrete of the Interstate.

Over the years, Goodsir has replaced his home's light-colored aluminum siding with a darker color because minute pieces of tire rubber stick to it. He erected an 8-foot fence to block some of the debris.

Goodsir and his wife often get away where it's quiet—on their boat to the Mississippi River or up north to Bailey's Harbor.

Sometimes, he wakes in the middle of the night, thinking something's wrong. He wakes because he's not hearing anything, he said.

Beginning in 2015, the state plans to expand the Interstate through Janesville from four lanes to eight lanes. The Goodsirs will get to vote whether they want a 16-foot sound barrier along their backyard to block some of the noise and grit.

Goodsir supports the sound barrier.

Just up the road, Lee Marklein, 79, has the opposite view. He has lived in his home at 1170 Ontario Drive since 1966. He estimated the Interstate is about 100 feet away.

The traffic in 1966 was heavy but nothing like it is today, he said.

Still, the noise doesn't bother him, he said, and he'd prefer not to have a sound barrier.

"I enjoy just sitting there," Marklein said. "I'm on the east side of the street. When I get home at night, I sit at the back of the garage, have a beer, watch the traffic go by and read the paper."

Relatives come by and "they sit there and count the cars," he said. "They enjoy it, too.

"I'm used to it, I guess," Marklein said. "I don't notice it a bit."

What has been irritating him recently, though, is a bump near the bridge that causes a loud noise when empty trucks hit it.

Marklein built most of the homes around him, and he said the location doesn't seem to hurt the sales. On average, most have been resold twice, he said.

Trina Gillespie, a tenant who lives near the Interstate on Valley Drive, said the noise doesn't bother her, either. In fact, she said it blocks out other noise, such as neighborhood dogs.

She's lived near an Interstate before, "and I don't hear it," Gillespie said.

A neighbor, Charles Givemore, 126 Valley Drive, said about the same thing. He has lived in his home for about two years.

"I like to see the cars go by," Givemore said. "It doesn't bother me."

This summer, though, his daughter Zada, 16, invited friends to camp in her backyard.

"It was horrible," she said.

She and her friends managed only a few hours of sleep.

Givemore doesn't know how his family will vote on whether to get a wall. They'll get together and talk about it, he said.

Dave McCarthy, 210 Valley Drive, has rented for seven years. His home is about 200 feet from the Interstate. Trees and brush shield his backyard.

McCarthy said the noise bothered him at first. Now, it quiets down after dusk and lulls him to sleep, he said.

McCarthy isn't sure how he'll vote. A wall might make him claustrophobic, he said.

Tony Cordero has lived down the street along Valley Drive for 15 years. The noise in his backyard didn't bother him when he moved here from Chicago because he lived near an expressway there, he said. In fact, he recalled that he couldn't stand the quiet.

Here, he and his wife, Joyce, can sit outside and talk, and a line of trees helps mute the noise, he said.

Still, they favor a wall. Traffic has grown worse through the years. Cordero said he feels the vibration from the road, and they have to close the windows to talk on the phone.

Last updated: 4:38 pm Tuesday, August 27, 2013

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