UDOT continues to meet with residents who object to a noise wall
Representatives are scheduled to meet with County Council next week
July 14, 2017
This week, the Utah Department of Transportation met with more residents who object to the construction of a sound wall on Interstate 80 near Jeremy Ranch.
Tuesday, members of the nonprofit organization Save People Save Wildlife joined the president of the Jeremy Pointe homeowner's association and others in Salt Lake City to further discuss the proposed 18-foot-tall concrete noise abatement wall.
Dan Bass, president of the homeowner's association, which represents 22 condominiums, said he understands UDOT must follow federal guidelines. However, he added, "It would look like a prison wall."
"I think it will be a horrible eyesore," Bass said in an interview with The Park Record. "But beyond the visual impact, I think it will be detrimental to those living in Jeremy Ranch and Pinebrook because that sound will go somewhere. It won't disappear."
Last month, UDOT announced an environmental study conducted over the winter revealed that current traffic noise warrants mitigation. The study was conducted in anticipation of a project that will add an additional westbound climbing lane between Jeremy Ranch and Lamb's Canyon in the spring of 2018.
UDOT has allocated $17 million for the climbing lane project, scheduled to begin in the spring of 2018. A $5 million grant from the Utah Transportation Commission for wildlife mitigation will fund construction of the wildlife overpass and three more miles of wildlife fencing. The money won't be available until October of 2017.
"We really don't need an additional climbing lane and I just think there is no reason for it because it will create more noise," Bass said. "If the climbing lane goes away, the noise wall goes away."
Homeowners within a certain range of Interstate 80 — approximately 24 homes located directly north of Jeremy Ranch Golf & Country Club — would need to approve the 3,000-foot-long concrete wall. It would be constructed along the westbound lanes of the Interstate between the Jeremy Ranch on-ramp and Hidden Cove Road. The wall would cost approximately $1.5 million and be funded entirely by UDOT.
"UDOT is very kind in saying, 'Yes, we want to hear your concerns,'" Bass said. "But, what my takeaway is, 'we hear your concerns, but we are not going to do anything about it.'"
Norman Schwartz, who lives in South Ridge, located in the Jeremy Ranch neighborhood, said the homeowners who will be voting on the matter bought their homes "knowing they had road noise."
'This is a self-imposed hardship. They bought their homes knowing where it was," Schwartz said. "The wall will impact more than 640 homes in my area between Jeremy Ranch and South Ridge. In order to protect and help their noise, this hideous, extremely tall wall is being considered to help 22 homeowners."
Schwartz said he is not trying to "kill a safety project," but questioned UDOT's decision to add the climbing lane and create more noise for surrounding homes. He vehemently objected to the size of the wall, referring to it as "atrocious" and "hideous."
"In an urban environment, maybe, but this does not belong in our environment and neighborhood," he said.
John Montoya, UDOT project manager, said the process to approve construction of the wall has slowed down to ensure all input is heard. UDOT had originally anticipated sending ballots to the 22 homeowners at the end of June, but decided to postpone a vote based on the concerns that were raised.
"We want to make sure all opinions and viewpoints are heard and people are well-informed," Montoya said. "We are trying to give people that opportunity. But the real issue is: we are a year away from construction of the climbing lane project and the noise wall is part of that project so there is no reason to rush, in terms of making that decision. We will just slow down and take our time to make sure decisions are good."
Representatives with UDOT's Region 2 are expected to meet with members of the Summit County Council on July 19 to discuss the matter. Montoya said council members have asked the agency to consider exploring other mitigation options, such as a berm.
"We are looking into that and evaluating it and hopefully we will have those results on the 19th," Montoya said. "I would anticipate a ballot could occur in early August, but we are planning to wait until after the meeting to schedule it. Nothing has been determined yet."
For more information about the I-80 project, contact UDOT's team at 888-528-9675 or email@example.com.