City inches toward sound walls along the 210 Fwy.

In order to prevent a $245,000 federal freeway sound wall construction grant from expiring, La Cañada City Council members decided on Monday that Caltrans should oversee plans for two wall segments that could be built in the not-so-distant future.

One wall segment would be raised along the south side of the Foothill (210) Freeway between the Foothill Boulevard eastbound freeway on-ramp and Berkshire Place — essentially a barrier serving the Meadow Grove residential area.

Another shorter segment would go up opposite the first wall on the north side of the freeway along the westbound freeway off-ramp at Foothill Boulevard.

Officials have not specified a timeline for bidding, design or construction, but before work could begin, the council first would have to request, and then approve, potential contractors’ bids for wall design.

The cooperative agreement with Caltrans, approved unanimously by the council, would have that agency oversee plans by a private contractor rather than have the state agency do its own design work.

Without adopting a project oversight agreement, the city would forfeit nearly $250,000 in federal sound wall funds approved in 2007. The city is also able to tap $4.6 million in county Measure R transportation tax funds for sound wall construction.

Council members declined to tap Caltrans for design work after receiving a “substantially lower” project estimate from the Pasadena-based Parsons Corporation, according to a report by Ann Wilson, senior management analyst for the city.

Wilson said City Hall would not disclose the Parsons figure, fearing that information would affect future competitive bidding.

City Engineer Ying Kwan said Caltrans estimated the price tag for its design work at $1.35 million.

Because sound walls for the entire city would cost many more millions with no foreseeable funding source, council members decided in March to use the nearly $5 million available to design and build what segments it could afford in areas most affected by freeway noise.

Kwan said officials chose to focus on the proposed segments near Meadow Grove because they appear to be the only two that are feasible with existing funds. Specific segment areas were identified by an environmental study in 2008.

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