Solon city officials received good news from the Ohio Department of Transportation last week – there is no expiration date for signatures obtained last year as part of a petition requesting a noise barrier study of the Route 422 highway corridor.
City Engineer John J. Busch obtained the information after the lack of responses last fall for the study. The city was unable to obtain enough signatures to meet the criteria of ODOT.
Just over 600 postcards were sent out in early October, and residents were given about a month to respond electronically on the city’s website.
ODOT indicated the city would need written support for the noise barriers by petition from 51 percent of the property owners within 400 feet of the freeway. Instead, the city received a 35-percent response.
The City Council Public Works Committee had asked Mr. Busch to inquire whether the first round of signatures could be saved and added to a second attempt.
The city can continue to build off the signatures obtained until the petition criteria is met, according to Mark Alan Carpenter, district environmental coordinator for ODOT District 12.
“That’s good news,” Councilwoman Nancy E. Meany said.
“They are still valid and will continue to be valid,” Mr. Busch said. “We can continue with our goal of getting the 51 percent support that we need to pursue the petition with ODOT.”
Mrs. Meany said she routinely receives complaints from her constituents regarding the noise from the freeway.
The committee discussed council representatives possibly sending a letter to the constituents in their affected ward ahead of time, alerting them of the petition.
“You might be able to get additional responses that way,” Mr. Busch said. “It’s just an idea.”
He said possibly the postcards were discarded for some reason, which could be the basis for the low response. Committee members also said the lack of responses may have had to do with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the fact that city officials were unable to go door to door and speak to residents directly.
“The good news is all of our efforts so far were not for nothing and will be a good foundation to build on to hopefully get to our end goal to petition ODOT to do the noise study,” Mr. Busch said.
In the past requests for barriers based on complaints of residents close to the freeway, the city had not moved forward based on the sheer estimated cost, which was $1.8 million per mile for the barriers. ODOT would not fund the project 100 percent, but rather only those pockets that were eligible with the city would be responsible for the remainder. ODOT bases its requests on dates of when homes were built for eligibility, Mr. Busch explained.
Mrs. Meany asked if the barriers have to be walls. She said some residents have indicated they would not like to look at a large wall. She said a suggestion could be larger mounds.
There may be drainage issues in the area of the freeway that would make that difficult, Public Works Director William Drsek said.
Mr. Busch said just performing a noise study doesn’t commit the city to having walls constructed.
“That’s several steps away,” he said.