'What are we? Chopped liver?' | Noise wall taunts residents on other side of I-355
Deborah Noble was delighted when she heard the Illinois tollway had finally erected a wall to provide respite from the din of I-355.
The bad news -- the wall was on the east side of I-355 in Lombard, not the west side where she lives, Noble learned last summer while away from home.
"What are we? Chopped liver?" Noble asked. She and neighbor Joyce Winke have sought a sound barrier ever since the Veterans Memorial Tollway was built in 1989. Their backyards border on I-355 between St. Charles Road and North Avenue in an unincorporated area near Lombard.
The Illinois tollway typically partners with residents and communities regarding sound walls, and shares costs depending on the circumstances, officials said.
Since hearing from the two retirees, the tollway "has been pursuing options to find a solution in conjunction with DuPage County," spokesman Dan Rozek said. "We're optimistic we'll be able to develop a plan to address their concerns."
For anyone who lives near a tollway, noise is a problem. But Noble and Winke fall under unique circumstances in that they predate I-355.
"We were here first," Noble said.
In the 1990s, tollway planners said "they were going to put up berms in the beginning. Never did it," Noble explained from Winke's yard, surrounded by shade trees and day lilies.
To the eyes, the surroundings are peaceful, but the cacophony of trucks and cars make it difficult to hear.
"If I have the window open and the phone rings, I have to close it. I cannot hear the conversation," Winke said. "So all the windows remain closed all the time."
Noble filed a petition with about 50 signatures two years ago seeking a noise wall, which is why the new barrier on the opposite side of I-355 is infuriating, she said.
"You do one for the east side. Why wouldn't you come over here?" she asked.
The tollway has a detailed noise abatement policy that includes funding noise wall construction up to $45,000 a home if certain criteria are met. If a local government is involved, it could be asked to undertake barrier construction, offer right of way land and provide future maintenance, for example.
"We're willing to be part of the solution, but how do we do this cost-effectively?" Tollway Chief Planner Rocco Zucchero said.
In general, if a bona fide noise problem is identified, the tollway will conduct a study that includes measuring sound levels. This is in addition to the initial studies that are always conducted when the tollway either constructs or improves a road, officials said.
How much the agency contributes can depend on the noise, the age of a home and whether a building predates toll road construction.
Noise walls aren't cheap, costing about $30 a square foot for a concrete barrier. There's no specific size as designs vary based on the topography and how close homes are to toll roads.
A community meeting is planned for August, DuPage County Board member Tim Elliott of Glen Ellyn said.
"We're working very hard to facilitate a solution for the problem," Elliott said.
Help can't come soon enough, Winke said. "This has been ongoing for 30 years," she said.
Got an opinion on noise walls? Drop an email to email@example.com.
"Route 53 procrastination doomed the northern suburbs," reader Bill Fanning said about the termination of a plan to extend Route 53 into Lake County. Although "I have lived in Lake County anxiously awaiting the extension for 30 years, it seems to me its usefulness has recently passed. More and more major employers are abandoning the suburbs and relocating to Chicago to be close to the talent pool. The young hires want a walkable community and public transportation to get them to their jobs. The suburbs don't provide that," Fanning said.
• Hopping onto the eastbound Jane Addams Tollway (I-90) from southbound Elmhurst Road? Not a good idea starting this week when the ramp will be closed into early August so workers can fix the pavement. Detours will be posted.
• IDOT has delayed until August closing a section of Route 22 at Flint Creek in Lake Barrington to repair a culvert. We'll post construction dates when announced, but keep the pending closure in mind next month if headed to Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital, on the west of the roadwork.
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Heading to Lollapalooza Aug. 1-4? Metra is selling a two-day train pass for $15, good for unlimited travel Thursday, Aug. 1, and Friday, Aug. 2 -- and it's $5 off if you purchase before Aug. 1.
Music fans going to the big show on the weekend can buy $10 weekend passes. Passes are available at ticket windows in stations or with the Ventra app.
Some trains will be added to accommodate crowds and schedules will be announced soon.