20-foot sound wall in Allandale raises concerns


by Heather Kovar / KVUE News and photojournalist SCOTT MCKENNEY

Bio | Email | Follow: @HeatherK_KVUE


Posted on September 23, 2013 at 6:35 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 23 at 6:40 PM

AUSTIN -- Construction on MoPac is expected to begin in December. That includes work to build an express toll lane in each direction, as well as build about seven miles of sound walls.

While votes were taken, and each section approve, concerns by those who didn't have a say in the project are being raised.

Looking out from the front lawn of Sandra Helton's home, you see a wall of green -- almost hiding MoPac. She doesn't want to see a 20-foot tall wall replace those trees.

"It's going to be confining, I'm going to feel fenced in," said Helton.

She didn't have a say in the matter. Only homeowners whose property is adjacent to Great Northern Boulevard were able to vote.

John Trimble voted yes.  He says the train, when it goes by and stops and idles, rattles his windows.

"Anything would help," said Trimble.

The voting process was the same for all the proposed locations, per federal and Texas law, according to Deputy Executive Director of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, Mario Espinoza.

Two ballots were sent to property owners by registered mail. For this particular one-mile stretch of wall, which will run from the pedestrian footbridge of Far West to 2222 on Great Northern, Espinoza says 26 voted in favor, three opposed, with 16 not voting.

Some nearby residents just recently heard about the plans.

"I think my jaw dropped a bit because particularly when I heard the wall was going to be only six feet off the great northern curb here," said homeowner Dan Bristow.

The reason the wall will be so close to the road is because it is one of the only areas where the railroad tracks aren't in the middle of MoPac.

Of about seven miles of sound walls -- in 19 separate locations, it is the only stretch that will not be built within the MoPac right-of-way, or near the roadway. Which brings another concern -- graffiti.

Espinoza says the Mobility Authority will landscape as prevention, and will also immediately remove any graffiti.