Construction of a cinder-block wall to muffle noise from the San Bernardino Freeway has been approved by the California Transportation Commission for residential areas between the Almansor Street overpass and Rubio Wash Bridge in Alhambra.
California Department of Transportation Director Leo J. Trombatore said work on the $1.5-million project is scheduled to begin in October and should be completed by July, 1987.
The level of sound emanating to homes along the freeway has been measured as high as 76 decibels. Before Caltrans will consider an area for a sound wall, it must record a noise level of at least 67 decibels, comparable to what is produced by a portble vacuum cleaner or traffic at midday on a busy street. The sound wall is expected to decrease noise by 5 to 10 decibels, Caltrans officials said.
It is estimated that there are about 100 projects in Los Angeles County, totaling about 125 miles of sound walls, currently awaiting funding. It costs about $1 million a mile to build a sound wall, Caltrans officials said.
The Alhambra project was selected because it had been given a high priority based on the noise level and the number of residences affected by the noise.
"There are homes real close to it (the freeway) and it's a worthy project," said William Minter, an associate transportation engineer with Caltrans. "I would defend this one in hell."
Minter said that the Almansor Street sound wall was 18th on the statewide priority list, but was chosen over other projects with higher priorities because of the noise level and the fact that it is along an interstate highway so 92% of the $1.5-million cost will be paid by the federal government.
Although the distance from Almansor Street to Rubio Wash Bridge is about 2.7 miles, the combined length of the sound wall segments will total slightly less than a mile. The wall will be built on the north side only where the freeway borders residential areas.
Homeowners who live along freeways throughout the county have been seeking construction of sound walls in recent years, and the lack of funds for the walls has led to a number of legislative squabbles over what projects are needed most.