Residents near I-75 to get sound wall after all

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published May 21, 2019

 Trees in the state right of way along Lange and Darter drives were cut down recently as part of I-75 work.

Trees in the state right of way along Lange and Darter drives were cut down recently as part of I-75 work.

Photo by Terry Oparka

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TROY — The 20 or so residents who arrived at a Michigan Department of Transportation meeting at the Troy Community Center May 20 weren’t sure what to expect.

In 2015, MDOT officials told residents on Lange and Carter drives, just north of Wattles Road, west of Livernois Road, that they would get a noise abatement wall as part of the Interstate 75 modernization project — but MDOT officials said earlier this month that the wall was out.

When MDOT accelerated the I-75 modernization project in 2019 — a project that is over 80% federally funded — residents learned that there would be no sound wall after all on their side of I-75 because the noise has gotten louder.

The sound wall no longer met federal guidelines in a cost-to-residents-benefited ratio.

Earlier this month, MDOT spokesman Rob Morosi confirmed that the traffic volumes and noise levels have increased and that the Carter-Lange sub no longer meets cost reasonableness criteria. He noted that the project has to follow federal guidelines to receive funding.

However, on May 20, Kimberly Avery, a project engineer for MDOT, stood in front of the residents and told them that the wall is a go — and she urged those present to “spread the news.”

Avery explained that although the time of the meeting — 4 p.m. on a Monday — wasn’t ideal for MDOT officials, they wanted to tell residents the news as soon as possible.

Avery told C & G Newspapers that the wall will be 23 feet high and 1,654 feet long, and it will be constructed on the shoulder of I-75 by 2020.

“The perception was that commitments made were being broken,” Morosi told C & G Newspapers at the May 20 meeting. “We worked with our federal partners to come to a resolution.”

“We’re very grateful our federal partners were willing to work with us. We realized it was very short notice,” Morosi said of the Monday meeting that residents had been notified of the Friday before. “We wanted them (residents) to hear it directly from us.”

Edie Mares, a resident on Paragon Drive, arrived a few minutes late because she brought along her 10-month-old grandson, Grayson DeMont, who she was babysitting.

“I really thought we were going to have a fight,” she said. “I’m shocked and thrilled.”

Mares said the noise from the freeway is so loud, “you can’t have conversation outside.” She added that there is a substantial deer population in the neighborhood, and she thinks the wall will protect both motorists and the deer.

Currently, both directions of I-75 traffic, separated by a temporary concrete barrier, are maintained on the southbound side of the freeway. This will allow for the northbound lanes and bridges to be reconstructed this year. This configuration is expected to remain in place until late November.

When completed, the $224 million project, the second phase of the I-75 modernization project, will reconstruct 8 miles of pavement and 18 structures, upgrade drainage, and improve aesthetics. It will feature federally approved noise walls and a high-occupancy vehicle lane between Coolidge Highway and 13 Mile Road.

This stretch of highway carries over 174,000 cars per day.

“I am just elated,” said Carter Drive resident Helene West. “We’re getting the wall.”

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