No sound barriers planned for I-69 through Johnson County

JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. - Several residents in the Center Grove area of Johnson County say they’re not happy that INDOT does not plan to build sound barrier walls when I-69 in constructed through their area.

The planned section of I-69 between Martinsville and Indianapolis is expected to follow the current route of State Road 37 through Johnson County.  Cindy Worley, who lives along Bluff Road, says the added noise of the interstate will greatly impact her neighborhood between Fairview and Smith Valley Roads.

“I thought they were going to do the sound barriers,” Worley said.  “It concerns me because it’s already loud enough with 37.”

“We don’t even sleep with our windows open because it’s loud,” Worley continued.  “It’s going to get worse, I’m disappointed.”

Although INDOT studies show the interstate will produce enough noise to consider a sound barrier near some Johnson County neighborhoods, the noise increase would not impact enough residents to justify the cost of building the barrier there.

“Just because it’s identified because of the decibel or potential decibel level, it may or may not have met the feasible or reasonable thresholds for putting in the sound barrier,” said INDOT spokesperson Andy Dietrick.

In order to build a sound barrier, Dietrick says it must be feasible in terms of engineering, and reasonable in terms of cost and benefit.  Building a 20-foot sound barrier wall can cost more than $3 million per mile.

“If it comes to the point where the cost of doing a feasible sound wall is significantly more than $25,000 to $30,000 per person who is going to be positively impacted, that’s not a reasonable sound wall,” Dietrick said.

Although current plans do not include sound barriers through Johnson County, Dietrick said those plans could change.  Construction of I-69 from Martinsville to Indianapolis is expected to start in 2019 or 2020.  It will likely be several more years before the construction reaches the Johnson County area.  If significant development happens along the corridor during that time, sound barriers could be reconsidered.

“Developers and neighborhood groups and businesses are encouraged to stay in touch with the state if they think that perhaps a sound barrier would be reasonable and feasible in their area,” Dietrick said.

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