Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Noise Wall Being Built in Jacksonville's Southside; Many Say Blocking Noise from Traffic and Sirens Will Be Welcome

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Noise Wall Being Built in Jacksonville's Southside; Many Say Blocking Noise from Traffic and Sirens Will Be Welcome

Article excerpt

Byline: LARRY HANNAN

After six decades of living at an address, you get used to the sound of nearby traffic.

But Hazel Tisdale, 85, was still happy to find out that a noise buffer would soon be going up outside of her house on the 2900 block of Bethel Court. Her home, which Tisdale has lived in for 63 years, is less than 100 yards from Interstate 95.

"The noise bothers people when they come over and visit," said Tisdale. "But I never notice it when I'm inside."

On Thursday, the Florida Department of Transportation will hold a public hearing to let people know about its plan to install brown walls, 15-20 feet high and similar to an existing noise wall that begins at University Boulevard and ends about a half-mile north of Emerson Street. That wall is surrounded in parts by trees and other green vegetation to make it appear more organic with the surrounding community.

The new walls will cost $2.2 million and be installed from south of San Diego Road to Merrill Avenue on I-95 southbound and from south of San Diego Road to York Street on I-95 northbound.

They will be up before a 2-mile elevated portion of I-95 is torn down and replaced from north of Palm Avenue to South of San Diego Road, for $182 million. The walls will remain after the construction project is over.

This project is needed because the elevated roadway, which FDOT calls the Overland Bridge, is one of the oldest elevated roadways in the area and has begun to deteriorate.

The state will add another lane to the two-lane, southbound access road off I-95 that runs from the Acosta Bridge to just south of Philips Highway. Southbound traffic will be diverted off I-95 onto the access road for most of the project.

The state had a long-term plan to install the noise walls, but the project was expedited last year after residents expressed concern about noise during a public meeting on the replacement project, FDOT environmental engineer Donald Dankert said.

There is no firm schedule for installing walls, but the I-95 project is scheduled to begin in late 2011 or early 2012. …

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