Noise still of Grave concern

City transportation officials have three options to lower noise levels on South Graves Lane.

The most expensive of the three options is a soundwall - that could set the city back $415,000.

Regional Transportation Commission commissioners Tuesday will consider adding one of the three choices to the transportation commission priority list during the next budget process. Alternatives for lowering the noise level along the roughly half a mile of road include:

-- Install a fence at the lots that are openly exposed to noise. Cost estimate: $8,400

-- Install 2,500 feet of masonry wall. The property owners would have to dedicate the land to the city. Cost: $415,000; $830,000 if the wall were constructed on both sides of the road.

-- Do nothing. City officials believe noise will not rise much with the addition of the freeway.

Transportation commissioners in October accepted a study which said noise levels along Graves Lane might exceed the Federal Highway Administration noise level of 67 decibels by 2012. The road already has a daily traffic volume of 12,082 vehicles. Estimates show that number jumping to 16,800 vehicles by 2005 and to 20,300 by 2012. Graves residents, many members of the River Knolls Sound and Safety Wall Committee, argue traffic directly affects the quality of their lives.

Deputy City Manager Dan St. John said the transportation commission is dealing with limited funds, especially after the $6.3 million Graves Lane extension drained the transportation commission budget below $1 million. Even if a soundwall was funded it would be years before it would be built, St. John said.

"Obviously it will take time to design it, and getting property dedications takes longer than you might think," St. John said. "It's likely it would be several years and there are a lot of competing projects."

Transportation Commissioner Steve Reynolds agreed saying that given the commission's financial situation, finding a solution for South Graves Lane residents would be difficult.

"My concern is that given the limited funds RTC has to work with, are we in a position to build a sound wall?" Reynolds asked. "It would mean forgoing other projects. We have to ask ourselves what the value is for the taxpayers money, and how soon could we do it?"

Major projects coming up on the transportation commission's list include the $100,000 Challenger Way extension, costing more than $620,000, to Ormsby Boulevard and ironically, the College Parkway sound walls, which were approved by the transportation commission earlier this year. St. John said transportation commissioners are also anxious to get started on improvements to South Curry Street.

St. John said a sound wall along South Graves Lane is "not warranted according to industry standards we've used previously.

"We at the staff level try to work within established standards set by the city on projects and to offer a consistent level of service to the public," he said. "We used that approach with the on-site sound monitoring and believe there are a limited number of lots that have a chance of exceeding sound standards."

Sound walls were built along the north portion of Graves Lane and approved for construction along part of College Parkway, but St. John said each case has different factors to consider.

If you go:

What: Carson City Regional Transportation Commission meeting

When: Wednesday, 5:30 p.m.

Where: the Sierra Room at the Community Center, 851 E. William St.


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