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October 23, 2013

Utica residents get a peek at bridge plans

Roundabouts, sound barriers among residents' main concerns



Another concern for many of the residents near portions of the highway, bridge or exit and entrance ramps is the noise.

Byron Ison Sr. said he lives near the back end of the Surrey Hills subdivision and the noise of the highway being constructed nearby is the opposite of the reason he moved there in the first place.

“We’re right at the end of a dead end street,” Ison said. “And we moved there so we could have some piece and quiet.”

But he was also pragmatic about the possibility of sound barriers being constructed to block out some of the noise.

“If we don’t have sound barriers, we’re just out of luck,” Ison said.

But he added that if he could sell his house and move, he would.

“If I can sell it, I’ll sell it,” Ison said. “I wanted to sell it before all this happened.”

For Hoosiers bordering the project, there are no plans to construct sound barriers.

“There are no noise barriers currently in the project in Indiana because they were not found to be reasonable and feasible during the SFEIS (Supplemental Final Environmental Impact Statement) period,” said Ron Heustis, INDOT project manager for the Ohio River Bridges Project.

He explained as part of the final design the developers of the project are required to take another look at the noise study and determine if their specific design has altered anything. If sound barriers are reasonable and feasible, they will be constructed.

Wingfield said it is a Federal Highway Administration process that determines the reasonable and feasible standards. The requirements include that a base noise level has to be above 67 decibels, noise must be lowered with the barriers installed by at least 7 decibels and the barriers have to be installed in a way that keeps the cost below $25,000 to $30,000 per household.

“As a result, what happens is that you’re more likely to see noise barriers in areas where there is dense housing development,” Wingfield said.

But even with noise barriers installed, it is likely that they won’t dissipate all the noise.

“It’s a wave, just like the wave in a pond,”  Heustis said of the sound waves. “If it hits something solid, it gets past it, and once it’s past it, it reforms into a wave again.”

“The primary beneficiaries of those noise barriers are just the first row or two of homes,” Wingfield added.

However, the plans, according to officials at the community meeting, are not set in stone.

“Really people have the ability to comment on most anything, and we’ll take it into consideration,” Wingfield said.

He added there is not a deadline to collect comments on the project, but the sooner the better, especially as the work on each stage of the project gets underway. Comments are still being collected on the Ohio River Bridges project website,, or through INDOT.


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