Guest editorial: Interstate 80 noise wall would be a slap in the face | ParkRecord.com

Guest editorial: Interstate 80 noise wall would be a slap in the face

Max Greenhalgh
Former member, Snyderville Basin Planning Commission and Basin Open Space Advisory Committee

Building a concrete sound wall at the entrance to our community may provide a marginal benefit to a few, but is a big slap in the face to us all! A concrete noise wall is antithetic to this community's efforts to preserve the natural beauty of the entrance corridor.

The worst of the freeway noise is generated from trucks using engine or jake brakes on their descent from the summit. They can be heard for miles by thousands residing along the Corridor. UDOT's plan will exacerbate the jake brake problem, as the walls will reverberate and amplify the thunderous roars of the jake-braking trucks. If UDOT really wants to reduce noise in the area, it should prohibit, or at least minimize, the area where jake brakes are permitted.

We are a mountain community, and as we grow, we strive to preserve what makes this place special. When noise barriers are warranted, we rely on landscaping and berms, not concrete walls! When Highway 224 was being re-built in the 1980s, UDOT, after consulting with County officials, built landscaped berms to minimize noise to the Silver Springs area. Similar berms have been effective in reducing I-80 noise to Black Hawk Station and other developments. Rigorous development standards have been implemented that minimize visual impacts of growth. The iconic example of the new standard is The Woods at Parleys Lane. The project abuts I-80 near the summit, but cannot be seen from the freeway. Development is clustered in natural folds of the terrain, and artfully placed landscaped berms shield it from view.

Millions in voter approved bonds have been spent to purchase thousands of acres along the Corridor, including 320 acres atop Summit Park, the 40 acre Roberts parcel directly across I-80 from the proposed wall, the 220 acre Rasmussen parcel east of Jeremy Ranch, the 780 acre Toll Canyon that sits between Timberline and Pinebrook, hundreds of acres added to the Swaner Preserve, the 290 acre Gilmore property south of Silver Creek Junction, the 300 acre Preserve below Olympic Park, and the 1200 acre Hi Ute Ranch east of Ecker Hill School. Over 15 million dollars have been spent to purchase open spaces along the Corridor! Thousands more acres along the Corridor have been preserved in connection with development approvals, including those of the Jeremy Ranch, Pinebrook, Glenwild, New Park, and Promontory. This community has talked the talk and walked the walk!

It is laudable that UDOT has scrapped its original plan for a continuous 3000 feet, 18 feet tall wall. But, UDOT's new plan that combines berms and concrete walls is still an affront to a citizenry that has accomplished so much to preserve the beauty of the natural environment.

This is our community! We should not allow a precedence of building concrete noise walls. If the one presently being considered is built, we will likely see more down the road! UDOT controls all our major roadways—both freeways and Highways 224 and 248. It is incumbent on leaders of Park City, Summit County, the resorts, and other stake holder groups to take a stand. Let UDOT know concrete noise walls are never acceptable up here!

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After all we have done to preserve the natural beauty along the entry corridor, constructing a concrete wall would be a big slap in the face to us all!