While advocates fight to prevent a reduction in city walking, biking and transit funding compared to 2010, a $2.5 million noise reduction barrier was installed on I-5 that has failed to do anything. That’s half as much as Mayor McGinn’s proposed new funds for Walk Bike Ride projects in 2011. From KIRO:
“Fabric baffles” that were hung under the bridge were expected to absorb and break up noise from the Interstate 5 express lanes by as many as five decibels, the Washington State Department of Transportation said. But recent tests at sites around the bridge showed either no change or a change of only one or two decibels, WSDOT said.
“I haven’t noticed any reduction in the noise at all,” said Maret Lambert, who lives near the bridge.
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“I don’t know if it’s made a huge difference,” said Erin Richards, another resident nearby.
WSDOT isn’t refuting those assessments.
“It was less than what the models said,” Jim Laughlin with WSDOT said. “I think what we need to do now is look at why this is.”
The baffles cost the state $2.3 million and were part of a larger $7 million project.
While money of that scale is basically lit on fire for car-related projects, the walking, biking and transit funds appear vulnerable as the City Council axes some of the mayor’s proposed new parking-based revenue sources. At the same time, publications around the city declare that there is some kind of “war on cars” in Seattle, and that bikers are somehow to blame.
That’s not to say I am against noise reduction projects. As someone who has lived a block from I-5, I know how troublesome the omnipresent roar of cars speeding on asphalt can be. Noise is yet one more understated cost of car use. While it’s true that the I-5 project was funded by the state, I am hoping this failed noise reduction project is at least something of a reminder to everyone that the amount of money being requested for projects that help people walk, bike and take transit is peanuts compared to the amount of money poured into car-centric projects in this city.