Petitions Will Measure Soundwall Study Support

Saturday, January 5, 2013

At a public meeting held late in September, city of Oakland and Caltrans representatives met with more than 60 Rockridge community members to discuss the dynamics of freeway noise and how soundwalls work; present a 2009 study of potential soundwall locations in the Rockridge and Temescal districts; and discuss the process of determining whether Oakland will invest in further soundwall studies at those locations. (Material presented at the meeting is available at www.fourthbore.org.)

Caltrans’ noise consultant discussed the findings of the 2009 “pre-soundwall” study, which identified two locations where soundwalls could be effective: eastbound and westbound along SR 24 between approximately Broadway and Telegraph Avenue (see map, below). Furthermore, more in-depth studies would be necessary to determine the likely benefits of soundwall construction and prepare the projects to compete for construction funding. Such potential soundwall studies are estimated to cost a total of just over $1 million, funding available from the Caldecott Tunnel Settlement Agreement between Caltrans and Oakland over the fourth bore project, which awarded $8 million to the city. (See Rockridge News issues of April, June, September, October and December, 2012, for more details.)

Since 2010, city officials have worked with residents in the North Oakland Hills, Rockridge, and Temescal neighborhoods to identify projects to be funded by the settlement. This work included a series of public meetings and comment periods that resulted in a list of 21 potential projects to respond to community concerns about the addition of a fourth bore to the Caldecott Tunnel. This list includes studies, not construction, of potential soundwalls in Rockridge and Temescal neighborhoods. Known as Noise Barrier Scope Study Reports (NBSSRs), the studies are prerequisites for funding any future soundwall construction. These costly studies are only conducted if neighborhood support for soundwall construction is assured (see article, left-hand column).

At the January 17 RCPC Town Hall meeting, city officials will present the next steps in determining how neighborhood support will be measured and whether or not Oakland will go forward with the NBSSRs.