Many of the noise-weary neighbors who live next to freeways would welcome some relief. In fact, the demand for sound proofing is so great in California that state highway agency Caltrans has a waiting list of requests for sound walls. But a proposal to build sound walls along the 2 Freeway in Echo Park and Silver Lake met with stiff opposition during a community meeting Thursday night.
Caltrans wants to build an 1,800-foot-long sound wall Freeway along Allesandro Street and another in front of St. Teresa of Avila School on Glendale Boulevard. The walls, which would be as high as 14 feet on Allesandro, would be built next year as part of a $12 million project to improve traffic conditions at the southern tip of the 2 Freeway where it meets Glendale Boulevard on the border of Echo Park and Silver Lake.
After conducting sound studies and surveying residents, Caltrans engineers abandoned a proposal to build sound walls on the Silver Lake side of the freeway. However, the surveys and studies supported the construction an approximately 1,800-foot long sound wall on the Echo Park side of the freeway along Allesandro north of Oak Glen Place.
But many of the Echo Park and Silver Lake residents who attended Thursday night’s meeting said the walls would only create eyesores, block views and attract taggers. Many also challenged Caltrans survey, which sampled only residents and property owners who lived in areas with the highest levels of noise. In the case of the Echo Park sound wall, 21 people supported the wall and none were opposed. On the Silver Lake side of the 2 Freeway, 12 people were opposed and 9 people were in favor.
Other residents who live in the hills above the freeway said the walls would do little to shield them from noise and only cause blight.
“Our community does not appreciate being walled in,” said one Silver Lake woman who lives next to the 2 Freeway. “This is not the answer,” she said of the walls.
Caltrans engineers conceded that building a wall on the Echo Park side of the freeway may reflect sound in the direction of Silver Lake, increasing noise. But the increase would only be one or two decibels, according to one engineer.
Caltrans officials at the meeting said they would review the objections to the sound walls. But they said the sound walls are required under the state and federal regulations that oversee new highway construction.
The sound walls are one part of a wide-ranging and contentious project that calls for metering southbound freeway traffic, improving sidewalks and crosswalks, adding landscaping at the southern terminus of the Freeway. Most of those changes are not scheduled to begin for at least another year.
Many residents and community groups have opposed the project as currently designed, saying it would do little to shield neighbors from commuter traffic and improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists.
Click here for more information about the State Route 2 Terminus Project.