Eastern Area Sound Wall Public Meeting Wednesday

COUNTY News:

The County is holding a 90 percent design public meeting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18 at the airport terminal building for Eastern Area Sound Wall. Once the design is complete, the project will be advertised for bids with completion anticipated in November.

Project Description:

Design and construction of a sound wall along the north side of N.M. 502 south of East Drive, between Tewa Loop and Airport Road. Budget: $655,000.

Review the Noise Analysis Neighborhood Meeting Summary from the June 11 public meeting. This document addresses most of the concerns and questions raised at that meeting. Note that the sign in and comment pages have been removed out of respect for the privacy of attendees. These pages are available to anyone who submits a public records request.

Background:

In the continued effort to address sound concerns raised by the Eastern Area residents between Tewa Loop and Airport Road, staff worked with the New Mexico Department of Transportation District 5 to have the N.M. 502 speed limits reduced. Staff received the NMDOT’s Speed Limit Declaration Dec. 11, setting the speed limit between DP Road and just east of Airport Road to be 35 miles per hour. New speed limit signs have been installed. The sound levels in the Eastern Area will be reduced if the revised speed limits are obeyed. Once the speed limit changes have been in place for a while, staff will check the sound levels to determine appropriate sound mitigation measures.

The previous Los Alamos N.M. 502 Noise Study identified, “the noise mitigation strategy is a combined solution of constructing a barrier wall in conjunction with reducing vehicle speed on N.M. 502.” Further, this study identified that, “This recommendation is the result of conceptual planning and future design studies will determine the exact location and dimensions of the wall.” The study modeling was based on the wall located at the existing grade at the edge of N.M. 502. Once the speed limit reductions are made the consultant will take new sound measurements and make recommendations based on the barrier wall being located on the south edge of East Road’s right of way.

The County’s consultant presented the updated noise analysis findings to neighborhood residents at a public meeting June 11 at the Airport Terminal Building. A copy of the updated noise analysis is available for review. Approximately 17 members of the public participated in the meeting. The consultant’s presentation included Noise Model Results, Decibel Reduction Tables, Noise Wall Layouts, Noise Wall Material Types and a Summary. Review the handouts from the meeting, which covers the above topics.

Of those who indicated a preference for a specific wall type and color, 11 preferred masonry block with a rustic reddish/brown color. 

The anticipated schedule includes completion of the design in August and work getting underway this fall to be completed next spring.   

The consultant’s recommendations are that effective noise mitigation is feasible, 8-feet is the optimal wall height, and material could vary depending on the project budget.

Staff will be verifying existing underground utility locations to discern where the wall can be placed. On initial review, the best location would be north of N.M. 502, south of the existing rose bushes (rose bushes would be on the residential side of the wall). There is concern that if the roses are on the south side of the wall (N.M. 502 side), they may not survive the reflected heat from the wall.

Public comments from the meeting include:

  • Keep roses on the highway side of the wall

  • Consider additional noise sources such as the airport

  • Concern about maintaining mountain views

  • Extend wall farther along Airport Road

  • Consider additional innovative technologies, including durability

  • Consider a landscaped berm with a smaller wall on top

  • Wall aesthetics should reflect the mid-century modern design of the neighborhood

  • Include gates so properties on the west side have park access

  • Consider other mitigating factors such as type of road surface, etc.

The consultant will look into additional innovative technologies as well as a landscaped berm with a smaller wall on top.

Survey work is complete and the County Attorney’s Office is working on a temporary construction easement document.

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