Sound barrier to reduce years of noise in St. Regis Park – The Courier-Journal
More than two decades after it widened the Watterson Expressway, the state is erecting a concrete sound barrier along the south side of the highway between Breckenridge Lane and the ramp to eastbound Interstate 64.
The 10- to 14-foot-high panels being installed will reduce traffic noise in parts of St. Regis Park and the Brookhaven neighborhood.
Residents say the project is long overdue.
St. Regis Park Mayor Brandt Davis said the residents think the barrier wall would have been built if it hadn’t become a political football years ago.
In 2000, the proposed state budget included $500,000 for a St. Regis Park sound barrier, but it was removed after state Rep. Ron Crimm, R-Middletown, who then represented the area, voted against a tax increase that was part of the budget.
Meanwhile, sound barriers were erected along other sections of the Watterson.
“While the other barriers were being put up, we felt like we were kind of being left out,” Davis said.
From 2000 to 2005, stories in The Courier-Journal reported on “the yearly” ritual of residents lobbying for sound protection. In 2006, the lobbying resulted in a sound barrier being built along the I-64 side of St. Regis Park, but it mainly protects the golfers at Oxmoor Country Club.
State Rep. Steve Riggs, D-Jeffersontown — who now represents the area, along with state Rep. Julie Raque Adams, R-Hurstbourne — said money for the newest barrier wasn’t allocated until about two years ago after he began hearing organized complaints about the noise.
The tipping point was when the Brookhaven Neighborhood Association formed a special sound barrier committee. Association president Adam King said the committee put all of its efforts into calling and writing to Riggs and Adams.
When I-264 was widened in the 1980s, noise from the interstate grew louder as traffic got closer to backyards. But the barrier wall wasn’t included with the construction because it was a federal project and the federal government only pays for sound barriers along new construction to highways, not those being widened, said Andrea Clifford, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokeswoman.
The $2.6 million project is about half complete and on and still on track for completion by July 1, Clifford said.
Mary Bilyeu, who helps manage the Upper Highlands Swim Club next to the Watterson, said she can already hear a difference.
“You aren’t having to talk over the sounds,” Bilyeu said.
Sue Jeffries’ backyard in St. Regis Park closely borders the interstate. While she doesn’t particularly like having to look at a wall, she’s looking forward to sitting outside to eat dinner.
“The benefits outweigh the look of it,” she said. “And it kind of matches my garage.”
Reporter Michael McKay can be reached at (502) 582-4653. Follow him on Twitter at @MichaelMcKay716