Noise wall design picked for I-16

jgaines@macon.comMay 8, 2014 

The concrete noise barrier along Interstate 16 past the Shirley Hills and North Highlands areas will have a rough stonework finish on the side facing the neighborhoods, transportation officials told about 20 people Thursday evening.

Of about 15 public comments received after an Oct. 17 community meeting, 65 percent favored the rough stone design, said Brad Hale, with state Department of Transportation consultants Moreland Altobelli.

The wall, which will be built alongside the east side of northbound traffic lanes on the elevated section of the highway, will run from I-16’s beginning just north of the Ocmulgee River and end at the Spring Street intersection, according to plans shown at Thursday’s meeting in Highland Hills Baptist Church.

“The entire neighborhood’s frontage on the interstate is covered by this barrier,” Hale said.

Part of a much larger reconstruction of Interstates 75 and 16 through Macon for safety and traffic flow reasons, this wall is one of nine to be built. It will stand 22 to 25 feet high, but construction will start in July 2017 at the earliest.

Residents of some other neighborhoods slated to get noise walls have urged that theirs be lengthened, but Norma Banks said the planned wall past Shirley Hills is too long on its northern end. At the October public meeting, she and several others asked that it not block drivers’ views of the Ocmulgee River below.

“We just think the river is an asset to Macon; why would you want to go block it? And how’s that going to help noise?” said Banks, who owns property along the river.

But given the choice between a smooth concrete wall, various patterns or a rough finish, she said the chosen rough finish looks best.

Resident Fred Utick said he likes the look of the wall, but wishes it didn’t loom above so much of the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail. He probably won’t have much occasion to see it except when he’s on the trail, he said.

“From what they’ve told me, it will not help with the noise reduction in my part of the Shirley Hills neighborhood, noticeably, because I live so far back from the wall,” Utick said.

It’s good that GDOT is making project information publicly available, whether residents like the design or not, he said.

Department officials have said they plan to wrap up community meetings on all proposed noise walls soon and meet with Macon-Bibb County officials in mid-June on what the side of the walls facing traffic should look like.

The wall designs will be on display for 10 days at the Macon DOT office, 4499 Riverside Drive, or they can be viewed online at www.i16i75.com. There is also a comment form available on the website.

To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.

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