Lake Norman & Mooresville

Noise walls coming with toll-lane project

The N.C. Department of Transportation has heard plenty of noise from opponents of its public-private partnership to add toll lanes to a 26-mile stretch of Interstate 77.

Now, N.C. DOT is trying to make sure any increase in traffic noise from the widened highway isn’t a nuisance to people who live and work closest to the interstate.

N.C. DOT is proposing the installation of 20 stretches of noise-abating walls as part of the $647 million project. The state has contracted with a U.S. subsidiary of Spanish company Cintra to design, build and then manage toll lanes on I-77 for 50 years. The contractor is financing the bulk of the cost of project, and will be repaid with tolls it collects from drivers using the new lanes.

Nearly half of the 20 walls proposed by N.C. DOT would be in the Lake Norman area. The phrase “would be” is important, because it ultimately will be up to property owners and residents near the proposed walls to decide if they want them. N.C. DOT will send ballots to addresses near the suggested wall locations.

“Only owners and tenants in properties benefited by the noise wall will receive ballots,” said Drew Joyner, head of N.C. DOT’s Human Environment Section.

N.C. DOT defines a “benefit” as a 5-decibel reduction in noise if a wall is added.

N.C. DOT will host a public information session on the proposed noise walls on Nov. 19 in Cornelius. Ballots will be mailed following the public meeting in what actually will be the second vote on the proposed walls.

N.C. DOT initially sent out ballots related to the noise walls in August 2013. However, some property owners and residents near two of the proposed walls, extending from I-77 onto Interstate 277, objected to the voting process and the height of the walls, which they said blocked their view of the Charlotte skyline.

N.C. DOT elected to alter the design of the those two walls and then poll residents and property owners again. In the process, officials decided to do a second round of balloting on all the proposed walls.

“The purpose of this re-balloting is to provide a consistent process (and) additional public outreach and validation for all the noise walls on the project,” said Joyner. “Also, the re-ballot will provide additional data for consideration in upcoming traffic noise policy and guidance updates.”

Joyner said all 20 walls were approved in the first round of voting.

“This balloting decision will supersede the earlier decision, so it is important that everyone who receives a ballot return it with their vote,” he said.

While N.C. DOT has general specifications regarding materials and construction standards for noise walls, they won’t all look alike.

“Each wall is individually designed to optimize its acoustic performance through varied heights and lengths,” Joyner said.

Here are the proposed noise walls in the Lake Norman area:

Huntersville

On the west side of the highway, from just north of Exit 23 to the Stumptown Road overpass.

On the west side of the highway, just north of Exit 25.

Cornelius

On the west side of the highway, near the Westmoreland Road overpass.

On the east side of the highway, just north of Exit 28, near the Sterling Bay apartment complex.

On the west side of the highway, about halfway between Exits 28 and 30, near Odgen Cove Drive, Crown Lake Drive and Crown Harbor.

Mooresville

On the west side of the highway, just north of Exit 31, along Alcove Road.

On the west side of the highway, just north of Exit 33, along Bridgewater Lane.

On the west side of the highway, just south of Exit 35, along Gibbs Road.

John Deem is a freelance writer: john.deem@outlook.com.

Want to go?

N.C. DOT will host a public information session on the proposed noise walls from 6-8 p.m. Nov. 19, at Cornelius Town Hall, 21445 Catawba Ave. Officials will conduct short presentations at 6 and 7 p.m. and will be available to answer questions.

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