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Getting an Earful : Freeway: Santa Monica council promises to lobby the state to build residents a sound wall.


With an audio tape of traffic noise blaring beside her, Barbara Filet convinced the Santa Monica City Council on Tuesday that she and her neighbors near the 10 Freeway need a sound wall alongside their homes.

Filet, who lives about 50 feet from the freeway's eastbound lanes, won a verbal pledge from the council to push the California Department of Transportation to build a promised 16-foot sound wall at an estimated cost of $870,000 to $1 million.

Traffic noise in Filet's neighborhood got worse in 1991 when the state added two lanes to the freeway and an on-ramp at 4th Street, she said. The freeway embankment was reduced and reshaped to accommodate the new lanes, and a row of trees--a natural sound buffer--was cut down.

"And with two extra lanes, the freeway is eight times as loud," Filet said.

After complaints by Filet and other neighbors later that year, Caltrans agreed to build a concrete-block sound wall on the south side of the freeway between 10th and 17th streets. Construction was scheduled to begin this summer. But in February, the state agency notified homeowners that there would be no wall because its budget had been exhausted by earthquake retrofitting projects and repairs to bridges and highways.

After listening to the tape of freeway noise, which Filet made from her back yard, Mayor Paul Rosenstein asked the city attorney to look into Caltrans' obligations to build the sound wall and suggested that the city's lobbyist in Sacramento contact state officials about the matter.

But Rosenstein admitted that it may be up to the city to find a way to pay for the sound wall itself.

"I know [earthquake retrofitting] is important," Filet said, "but so is my quality of life at home. Now my property value has dropped, and I can't enjoy being outside my home."

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