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ORANGE COUNTY PERSPECTIVE

Patience and Persistence Win

July 29, 2001

Residents who summon the will to fight city hall and keep after distant bureaucrats require a special kind of resolve and patience. Few can carry on a fight for decades, while they endure a prolonged inconvenience.

There have been many decibels of passing traffic noise heard since residents along the Garden Grove Freeway began complaining during the Nixon administration about what they were putting up with. People who live close to freeways no doubt are going to have to expect to live with a nuisance. But as Orange County has grown, these long-suffering homeowners have endured far more than their share of noise as traffic volume increased during a period of remarkable growth.

At last, earlier this month, ground was broken for the first of seven sound walls. It seems a simple thing to imagine having conversations outdoors without shouting. For these people, that will be a new experience. Residents have not been able to use their backyards much. Small pleasures of life such as backyard barbecues have had to be on hold.

Over the years, residents on Anthony Avenue have written letters, made phone calls and put up with a lack of interested response from various state and local officials. The West Garden Grove Residents Assn. sprang up to fight for a sound wall. At one point, protest banners were hung.

From time to time, these residents made headway with a sympathetic bureaucrat or two, only to be set back when the official would leave the job. They knew that Caltrans had made sound walls a priority item but were stymied because the project never made it high enough on the funding list.

At last, the persistence paid off.

Under two transportation programs approved by Gov. Gray Davis, Orange County is getting $35.7 million to build the walls. Local legislators got behind the project, and the attitude of Caltrans became more positive. Jeff Morales, Caltrans director, recently said, "People shouldn't have to wait 30 years."

He's right.

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