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After several meetings and sound testing, ODOT determines that a barrier would be ineffective

GARY ALLEN - Residents of the Parks Drive area in Dundee were unsuccesfull in lobbying ODOT to erect a wall to block the noise from the Newberg-Dundee bypass.

The Oregon Department of Transportation had bad news when it met April 24 with nearly two dozen neighbors of the bypass in Dundee: the state agency would not construct a sound-deadening wall between the thoroughfare and their homes.

ODOT project manager Tony Snyder told the residents of Parks Drive that the noise emitted by the bypass didn't reach the threshold required to erect a wall.

"We have thresholds. If it is over 65 (decibels) then it is too loud and you've been impacted," he said.

Since the bypass opened in January, some neighbors have complained to ODOT of the noise generated by the bypass, disrupted sleep and other issues. ODOT responded by conducting a noise study to determine if the sound levels exceeded the 65-decibel standard for a residential area and whether erecting a sound barrier would lower the sound level to acceptable standards.

The ODOT study found that erecting a wall would not decrease the noise level from 65 to 60 decibels, therefore the study stopped there.

"We finished collecting the numbers for Dundee and the properties," Snyder said. "There was only one group in the study area that had the five decibel benefit that we look for. … No one else got that reduction. We explained to them that any wall that we build on that side of the highway, because of the distance, the sound just rolls over the top of it. There is a shadow that is created behind the wall, that is quieter by the wall, but once you get 400 or 500 feet out there, it just does not make a difference."

The end result is that ODOT found it that it was not feasible to build a sound barrier for that neighborhood.

"(Is it) feasible, does it help? (Is it) reasonable, is it cost effective? Then it goes to a vote," Snyder said. "It has to pass three ways to get the wall … it was not feasible. We cannot spend money if it is not going to be effective."

Some neighbors said ODOT officials promised that dirt berms would be part of the design of the bypass and questioned why that wasn't the case.

"We looked into the berms but found that they were not going to be effective," Snyder said. "The berm with trees and vegetation does not make any difference at all because sound goes through trees. So what we're looking at is to maybe put in some trees and vegetation for the visual screening, so they don't have to look out their window and just see the bypass right there, but it is not going to drop their noise level any."

Several neighborhoods in Newberg, including one area by Chehalem Creek, have also raised concern about noise from the bypass. Snyder said there will be future meetings in Newberg because of the complexity of noise level studies, bypass regulations and laws. The date is not set and the agency has not gathered the data from Newberg yet.

"ODOT is currently measuring the noise levels at the selected places in Dundee and Newberg to either validate the modeling that took place before the final design, or to find places where the modeling was wrong," he said.

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