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VALLEY PERSPECTIVE

Sound Wall Program

February 11, 2001

* Re "Getting an Earful," Feb. 5.

Thanks to Gov. Gray Davis' actions, sound walls that had been on hold for a decade are finally coming to numerous noise-impacted areas in Los Angeles County. Under the split between state and local funding, sound walls are normally addressed through the regional transportation program. However, because of the L.A. MTA's [Metropolitan Transportation Authority's] inability to fund the 1989 program, Davis worked to secure state funding for these 42 projects. Through a combination of streamlined internal processes and outsourcing, seven sound wall projects instead of one will begin construction this year in Los Angeles County. During 2002, work will get underway on another 25 rather than nine that were originally proposed. All 42 sound wall projects will be delivered and provide benefit by 2005.

Last July, Davis announced a commitment to complete the once-abandoned freeway sound wall program. As a result of the governor's action, the California Transportation Commission approved $226 million in sound wall funding. Of that amount, $187 million was directed to Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

Additionally, readers should be aware of a new trend in sound wall design. Caltrans has been working with communities to develop designs on sound walls that reflect local characteristics, such as has been done in Orange County along the newly opened sections of I-5. In another example, the city of Simi Valley and Caltrans architects used split face and scored blocks of different sizes to create a shadow pattern that gives the illusion of mountains on the Route 118 sound wall.

Californians need to know that Davis is committed to delivering both the sound wall program and his traffic congestion relief plan, which he unveiled last April.

JEFF MORALES

California Department

of Transportation Director

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