Prospect Park residents irate over Mn/DOT's new sound wall

Late last fall, as part of 2011's epic construction overhaul in the Twin Cities, Mn/DOT built a noise wall along I-94 in Minneapolis, just east of the Mississippi River.

The purpose was to reduce highway noise to the nearby neighborhoods, but Prospect Park residents are complaining that it did just the opposite.

Neighbors say that because the new wall is excessively high, it's ricocheting noise over a smaller wall on the other side of the highway -- amplifying the sound, rather than muffling it. And they are not happy. Here's what one resident wrote on a neighborhood message board:

One morning I woke up thinking that it must be very windy outside, and soon realized that it was the highway - not the wind - that I could hear inside my bedroom. I dread opening the windows this summer and for the first time in 13 years I've thought about selling and leaving this neighborhood.

John DeWitt, transit chair for the Prospect Park's neighborhood association, says they started hearing complaints about the noise wall last week, and plan to meet about it later this month.

"We really don't know a whole lot yet, but there certainly have been complaints from people north of the freeway that it's much worse than it used to be," says DeWitt.

Peter Wasko, noise specialist for Mn/DOT, says the problem neighbors are describing is called "reflection," a rare phenomenon in which the "noise is reflecting off of the wall of one side of the highway and directing that noise to the other side."

Mn/DOT will determine if the complaints have merit, then figure out if they need to take action, Wasko says.

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