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Published: Saturday, 12/27/2008

New walls aim to cut noise along Turnpike


STRONGSVILLE, Ohio - Noise along the Ohio Turnpike has become more of a concern in recent years as the amount of traffic increases and homes are built closer to the toll road.

But the Turnpike Commission is trying to cut down on the noise, testing a newly designed sound wall in Berea and acoustic sound panels in Strongsville this spring.

Officials from the two cities and other Cleveland suburbs have heard a growing number of complaints from residents about the noise, which worsened after a third lane was added in each direction and the speed limit for trucks was increased to 65 mph.

"You can't really enjoy being outside," Berea resident Edward Caraszi said. "The noise is terrible. If I go out to talk to a neighbor, we are shouting at each other."

There's just one noise barrier along the turnpike, built in Cuyahoga County, said Dan Castrigano, the commission's chief engineer.

The new 1,200-foot sound wall and 900 feet of sound panels are part of a pilot project run by the commission and the Ohio Department of Transportation that could lead to more barriers along the turnpike. The department provided $500,000 to the commission earlier this year to test noise-mitigation systems.

TranSystems, a Cleveland private consulting firm, was hired to study and propose new ways to reduce noise along the turnpike.

Experts found 67 areas with houses, schools, or other buildings along the 241-mile northern Ohio toll road that registered around 70 decibels - about as loud as a running vacuum cleaner and enough to make it difficult to hold an outdoor conversation.

The 70-decibel level is the Federal Highway Administration's standard for possibly adding noise abatement.

A report on the sound wall and panels must be sent to the Turnpike Legislative Review Committee by June 30.

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