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Published April 19, 2024

Residents seek sound wall solutions

Sound disturbance has led some Prospect Park residents to move.


Unhappy Prospect Park residents will hold a meeting Tuesday to discuss noise problems they say are caused by the neighborhood’s recently erected sound wall.

Since its completion by the Minnesota Department of Transportation late last year, many residents complained that the wall, which follows Interstate 94 from Franklin Avenue Southeast to Highway 280, significantly amplifies the sound from the highway.

“The understanding is that MnDOT did the minimum to have due diligence,” said Richard Adams, a board member of Prospect Park East River Road Improvement Association.

Bob Sykora, a public defender leading the charge against the wall, has lived in the neighborhood for 21 years. In 2010, he built a new home by the highway with sound-reducing features — he spent $75,000 on triple-pane windows and double walls. But with the new sound wall, he said his investment is useless.

The sound wall that was built to protect residents from noise has actually amplified sound, he said.

The problem is mostly with semitrucks, which make a lot of noise while braking when coming into slow moving traffic, he said.

“When it does that, it now wakes up scores of people in their houses that live on the hills here,” Sykora said.

PPERRIA president Dick Poppele said MnDOT’s original studies didn’t take into effect the reflective quality of the wall and the topology of the area.

A lot of the neighborhood is on a hill above the sound wall.

The noise from the sound wall degrades property value, residents’ way of life and has made some people decide to move, Sykora said.

Sykora’s neighbor, who has lived in the neighborhood for many years, has decided to move away because of the sound wall, he said.

“She’s very emotional about the fact that the house that she’s lived in for decades, she can’t live in anymore,” Sykora said. “There are a number of our neighbors who are very, very distraught that their homes are now being invaded by this noise.”

Tuesday, PPERRIA will meet with MnDOT officials, Poppele said. Local officials including Ward 2 Councilman Cam Gordon and Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, will be attending as well, Sykora said.

PPERRIA wants to study the sound wall for possible solutions before any action is taken, Poppele said.

One of the suggestions was to cover the wall with vines, but that would only slightly reduce the sound, Sykora said. Another suggestion was to make a wall with all tilted panels, but that could be really expensive, he said.

MnDOT could not be reached for comment, but according to Sykora, it will be conducting a study for possible solutions.

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