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Article posted: 12/13/2012 6:25 PM

Sun City residents making noise about tollway noise

Traffic moves through the construction zone at the Route 47 and Interstate 90 interchange in Huntley. Nearly 1,000 residents from the neighboring Sun City subdivision have asked the Illinois Tollway Authority to put up a sound barrier between Sun City and the tollway. Residents are upset about traffic noise and say it has disrupted their quality of living.

Traffic moves through the construction zone at the Route 47 and Interstate 90 interchange in Huntley. Nearly 1,000 residents from the neighboring Sun City subdivision have asked the Illinois Tollway Authority to put up a sound barrier between Sun City and the tollway. Residents are upset about traffic noise and say it has disrupted their quality of living.

 

Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

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The traffic from the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway in Huntley is so loud, that Amelia Felinski, who lives in nearby Sun City, has started taking sleeping pills so the steady roar from traffic doesn't interrupt her slumber.

"There is no quiet zone in my home," Felinski said.

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Felinski was one of about 80 Sun City residents Thursday who demanded the Illinois Tollway Authority put up a sound barrier between the tollway and Sun City so residents can enjoy home life without the din from the tollway.

Tollway authorities said Thursday Sun City does not qualify for a sound barrier. In summer tests, the decibel level was measured at 61 in Sun City, and a level of 66 is required before sound abatement is considered.

"We need a buffer between our homes and the tremendous noise that will come with the completion of the (tollway) expansion," said Diane Novak, chairwoman of Neighborhood 35 in Sun City, which initiated the movement for a sound barrier. "We're not stereotypical senior citizens. We go outside, we work in our yards, we enjoy a drink on our patio, we like to sleep with the windows open."

A recent study commissioned by the tollway authority shows it is not financially feasible to build a wall, since only one house -- which is not in Sun City -- would directly benefit. That house is on Freeman Drive, 220 feet away from the tollway, while the closest Sun City homes are 700 feet away.

And that's too far for a wall -- at 12 feet high and 700 feet wide -- to drown out the tollway noise for people in Sun City, said Jamie Tunnell Bents, a transportation planner at Huff and Huff, the group that conducted the study. It also isn't financially feasible to build a $250,000 wall for just one house, she said.

Construction workers are building a new interchange on Route 47 that leads to the tollway. They leveled many of the natural sound barriers that had been blocking the noise when many people moved to Sun City. The $69 million project should be finished by Thanksgiving next year.

Bryan Wagner, an environmental planner with the tollway, said residents have the option of appealing the decision by sending a letter to the tollway's executive director.

Sun City residents said they will take their cause to village officials, and representatives in state and county government.

As well, nearly 980 people have signed a petition asking for a sound barrier, which was presented to a tollway official Thursday.

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