Quiet at a Cost: Sound Wall Blocks Scenery for Residents

Harlow neighborhood residents sacrifice aesthetic beauty for peace and quiet. The Department of Transportation opted to build a sixteen-foot tall concrete sound barrier last summer, spanning nearly a mile along I-5 in northeast Eugene. While the wall is designed to reduce the noise of passing cars on the adjacent highway, local residents complain that the bulky wall is an eye soar.

“The wall is pretty ugly,” says Terry Braden, who says his property line stops just short of the obstruction, “but I don’t know what it would be like if there wasn’t anything there”.

Nearly 93,000 vehicles travel on the I-5 highway everyday, a number that officials say will only increase in the years to come.

The Department of Transportation has dedicated $200 million to improve the I-5/Beltline highway over the next four years. Some improvements in Eugene include a new off ramp and on ramp and widening Hutton Street and part of Gateway Street.

The transportation department also built a similar style sound wall along I-105 in 2001.

“I’m sure the wall has its purpose,” says Elena Thomas, “but nobody wants to walk outside their house and have to look at that.”

Andrew Whitner turns to his green thumb to improve the situation in his backyard, the edge of his lawn now bordered with large arborvitae bushes.

“It was a good excuse to plant some nice trees in our yard”, says Whitner.

Whitner says he is generally happy to live in his Harlow neighborhood, despite the roaring freeway he resides so close to.

“It’s definitely not ideal but it could be worse,” says Whitner, “the only way it can work is if the wall is really long and tall”.

 

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