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Council Cites New Lanes : Noise Walls Sought on Ventura Freeway

Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles City Council called Friday for sound walls along the Ventura Freeway through the San Fernando Valley, to muffle the noise after the state squeezes two more lanes of traffic into the highway.

The council voted unanimously and without discussion to “insist” that the state Department of Transportation build the walls wherever the noise exceeds the federal standard. The freeway, U.S. 101, is to grow by one lane in each direction between Topanga Canyon Boulevard and the Hollywood Freeway. The state plans to eliminate most of the center shoulder and paint new stripes.

‘Very Low Priority’

A Caltrans official said the requested walls would cost about $10 million, nearly two-thirds of the money the state has appropriated to protect Californian’s ears from the roar of freeway traffic. He said that stretch of freeway has a “very low priority” among more than 200 statewide where noise exceeds the standard.

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“What the council’s action will lead to is open to speculation,” said the official, Wayne Ballantine, Caltrans’ environmental planning chief.

The action was made on a motion by Councilmen Marvin Braude and Joel Wachs.

“We feel that the additional freeway lane will add to the problems of noise already associated with the freeway,” Wachs said. “It’s a legitimate concern that people have. They aren’t saying stop the freeway, but they are saying take our interests into account, which is a very reasonable approach.”

Study Requested

In addition to the walls, the council asked Caltrans to study increased noise when it weighs the environmental impact of the busier highway.

Caltrans already plans to build a sound wall 5,000 feet long on the north side of the freeway between Sepulveda and Van Nuys boulevards, and one 4,000 feet long on the south side between Hayvenhurst and Haskell avenues.

The masonry-type walls on the edges of the freeway are 10 to 12 feet high and cost about $1 million per mile. They are intended to reduce the noise by at least five decibels on the side away from the freeway, Ballantine said.

Ballantine said the state is not planning to build more sound walls along the Ventura Freeway soon. That is partly because of the cost. Also, he said, the state’s experts do not think the increased traffic will add much noise.

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“The expanded freeway will add 2,000 more vehicles per lane per hour at capacity,” Ballantine said. “That will produce a very minor, insignificant increase in the noise levels.”

The state has $16.6 million to build sound walls in a five-year noise abatement program. Ballantine called that a drop in the bucket considering the need. And houses in many other places are closer to freeways, he said.

The Valley’s highest-ranking freeway noise problem is on the Ventura between Winnetka and De Soto avenues. It is 70th on the state’s list.


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