Jeremy Ranch citizens group wants to stop sound wall proposed along I-80

Apr 9, 2018, 10:03 PM | Updated: Apr 10, 2018, 1:01 am

JEREMY RANCH, Utah – A citizens group in Jeremy Ranch is making a lot of noise about a sound wall proposed for their neighborhood along I-80.

Noise studies from the Utah Department of Transportation show a wall is now needed as they add a lane to the interstate, and they have the support of nearly 30 nearby neighbors. But, a citizens group representing a broader area is challenging UDOT’s criteria and they want the wall stopped.

“We have to look at how that extra noise is going to affect people in the proximity there,” said John Gleason, a UDOT spokesman. “We understand that this is a sensitive issue.”

UDOT is building an additional westbound climbing lane for slow moving trucks from Jeremy Ranch up to Parleys Summit. UDOT says that added capacity meets their criteria for building a sound wall to mitigate the extra noise for homes along the interstate.

“There are people directly affected by the additional noise created by this extra lane,” Gleason said. “So, we need to really adhere to what they want.”

They plan to build a 17-foot tall sound wall on top of a dirt berm, running 3,200 feet from the westbound Jeremy Ranch on ramp to Hidden Cove Road.

But, the group Citizens Against the Wall (CATW) said Monday that UDOT got the noise criteria, and cost criteria wrong.

“They don’t meet any of their criteria to do anything at all,” said Tom Farkas, a founder Citizens Against the Wall, who lives just outside the area where residents were polled about their interest in the sound wall.

He cites UDOT for non-compliance with many of its own policies, when it comes to costs associated with the proposed noise barriers and the balloting process that was conducted to see whether the people wanted a wall.

“UDOT has not done the cost criteria properly. They have not done the balloting properly. They are actually violating their own policy by proceeding,” said Farkas.

Citizens Against the Wall also charges that the wall would negatively impact the views of many, while greatly detracting from the scenic beauty and open space visitors and locals have long appreciated when entering Summit County.

“They may be benefiting some,” said Farkas. “But, they may be adversely affecting residents even more.”

UDOT disagrees.

“We’ve had two engineering firms that have looked at this and said that we’re doing it the right way,” said Gleason. “They said that all standards and obligations have been met.”

Engineers told UDOT which homes would be affected by the added noise.

“The majority of the people that are directly affected have said that they want us to build this wall,” said Gleason.

They polled 29 people on 27 different properties about whether they supported building the sound wall. With the exception of two people, residents supported the wall.

“It’s obvious. It’s super noisy,” said Anthony Sands, who can see and hear the interstate from his front porch.

He said it’s time to build the wall. Twenty year ago, he said, it might not have been necessary. But, today, he and his immediate neighbors support the wall.

“It’s 24/7 noise, he said. “Tens of thousands of cars a day.”

He said a sound wall may be an eyesore to others, but he’s glad that there are standards in place for the noise.

“The reality is progress, and what we want to do is mitigate the noise,” Sands said.

UDOT said it is still eager to work with the citizens who oppose the wall in order to refine the project. Citizens Against the Wall hope to find a sympathetic ear in the governor’s office. Construction on the climbing lane has already begun. UDOT said work on the wall will start in June or July.

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Jeremy Ranch citizens group wants to stop sound wall proposed along I-80