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Soundwall Battle Continues

Although La Cañada's representative in Congress asked for $500,000 to help construct freeway sound barriers here, no federal money is budgeted for the project.

March 22, 2007|By Charles Cooper

La Cañada's soundwall study to reduce noise generated by increasing traffic on the 210 Freeway has finally been approved by the state department of transportation, and the city is continuing its effort to find sources of funding for the project, city officials said this week.

The funding picture remains a challenge, however, as the city was officially informed last week that $500,000 requested by Rep. David Dreier (R-San Dimas) is not in the federal budget.

A Dreier aide explained that the congressman had put the money into a continuing resolution for federal transit funding. It passed the House but was not taken up by the Senate.

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Dreier will try again for the funding this year, the aide said. It would have represented a down payment on the eventual $21 million cost for the soundwall segment.

La Cañada's strategy to move the local project up the list of soundwalls needed across the state remains in place, according to City Manager Mark Alexander.

The city funded a noise reduction study which the state has now accepted, and is trying to identify a one-third local match for the project. The city spent nearly half a million dollars for the study by Parsons Company.

The soundwall construction effort across the state languished when Caltrans pushed the issue to the local level, during one of the state's many budget crises.

It became a critical issue for La Cañada and other foothill cities when the 210 was extended to the 15 in San Bernardino, and truck traffic increased greatly, along with noise impact.

The city spent more than two years to have its sound study approved by the state, and finally achieved that goal.

Brent Whitfield, member of the ad hoc committee to support the soundwalls, said the group will continue to work to promote the city's efforts. He said he is also encouraged that Caltrans is studying the use of rubberized concrete for repairs, as a way of holding down the noise.

Once the La Cañada soundwall hits the top of the list, construction could take up to three years. Studies have indicated the walls could cut sound generation by as many as 8 decibels.

Promoters of the 710 Freeway tunnel project have promised non specific mitigation measures for cities along the 210 corridor if the tunnel is built and brings even more traffic. Such measures could include sound barriers.

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