SILVER LAKE — When Caltrans proposed building soundwalls along the south end of the 2 Freeway, agency officials were surprised to find that many Silver Lake residents didn’t want the walls, saying they would attract taggers, replace trees and look ugly. So the agency scrapped the Silver Lake soundwall. But now, after an 1,800 foot-long soundwall was built across the freeway in Echo Park, it turns out that many in Silver Lake want a wall after all.
In fact, some Silver Lake residents say the freeway noise has gotten worse because traffic sound is now bouncing off the Echo Park wall and into their unprotected neighborhood.
“Since the sound wall was constructed, the noise outside and inside the house is much louder, particularly at certain times of day (like 5-8 pm) ” said Amy Heibel, who is one of about 30 residents who have signed a petition supporting a wall on the Silver Lake side of the freeway. “I could hear the traffic noise even through earplugs at night …. We put in noise-reducing dual pane windows in one of our windows, but that is expensive, has a limited effect, and it does nothing about the noise outside the house.”
Heibel moved to Silver Lake after a majority of residents surveyed by Caltrans about three years ago rejected the structure. In contrast, on the other side of the freeway in Echo Park, the walls were supported by a majority of residents who were surveyed. But after talking to her Silver Lake neighbors and reviewing documents, Heibel says that a relatively small group of households, about 20, were invited to weigh in on the soundwall, and many of those did not live on such streets as Allesandro Way, Loma Vista Place and Lakeview Terrace that are immediately adjacent to the freeway. Also, many in Silver Lake said they were not fully informed about how much more noise they would face with the construction of the sound wall on the other side of the freeway.
“Many say they would have regarded the issue differently and been a lot more adamant about a wall on our side,” Heibel said in an email. “Now that the wall on the east side has been built, the reality is very different from what the public process documents suggest it would be. We have less landscaping, more noise, more dust, and more visual pollution than before. That is not what the neighborhood expected.”
Peter Jones, a public affairs specialist at Caltrans, said that funding for a soundwall might be available in future construction planned for the 2 Freeway. But funds will have to be allocated and another survey of freeway-adjacent residents will have to be taken.
Heibel said neighbors are prepared to take legal action if no soundwall gets built. “The increase in noise and visual pollution has a notable effect on property values, health and well-being in our neighborhood,” she said.
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