State transportation officials said Thursday they will return to an original plan for constructing sound barrier walls up to 20-foot high along the future San Tan Freeway in Chandler after complaints raised by local residents and city officials.
Representatives from the Arizona Department of Transportation, Chandler and the governor’s office worked for several weeks to address the height of the sound walls on the stretch of Loop 202.
Earlier this summer, ADOT said it would reduce the sound walls near neighborhoods from a planned 20 feet to 14 feet because of the installation of rubberized asphalt. That decision angered residents living along the planned freeway in Chandler. They asked the city to step in.
"We have approached it saying we want to meet our goals in noise reduction, but we also understand that the neighbors had expectations of higher walls and we are going to meet that expectation," said ADOT spokesman Doug Nintzel, explaining the decision to stick to higher walls ranging 17 to 20 feet.
"I’m glad that they are keeping their promises," said Glen Gorke, president of the Carrizal neighborhood homeowners association.
Gorke credited the city for backing neighbors on the issue. "We thought we were going to be up against a battle to get anything, but to have the city on our side has really made it happen," Gorke said.
ADOT director Victor Mendez said timing also played a role in the decision.
"There wasn’t a lot of time between the decision to adjust wall heights and the construction getting under way," he said.
Mayor Boyd Dunn praised ADOT for listening.
"I just want to thank the leadership of Victor Mendez for listening to the neighborhood and working out the issue to the desired result,’’ he said.
The $31 million project to construct Loop 202 from Dobson Road to Arizona Avenue is scheduled for completion in late 2004.