Walking and the pedestrian environment
December 28, 2004
Ship Canal deck noise (Seattle)

Neighbors of the I-5 bridge over the ship canal are finally getting respite.

This is part of the special feature Freeway Box, showcasing my old life next to freeway viaducts.

The Seattle PI reported that WSDOT finally discovered that neighbors were right about how noisy it is to live below the I-5 bridge over the Ship Canal just north of downtown Seattle.

I find this very heartening. I recently reviewed state noise laws, which focus on the horizontal impacts of noise. This gives me hope that they will look in all directions from the freeway. Perhaps suburban houses near the freeway can be discussed in terms of ground-level impacts. But downtown Seattle - and increasingly Seattle in general - is a three-dimensional city. If or when capacity is increased on I-5, I expect the city government to force the state to put in noise mitigation, effectively capping the freeway. Perhaps other funds can be found to totally cap it, but I'm not sure what our capacity will be assuming we can pay for submerging the Alaskan Way Viaduct (SR99).

In this case the answer was attaching sound-absorbing material to the bottom of the freeway. This should have been done to the viaduct decades ago. I'm going to keep this in mind for other underpasses. Unfortunately sound mitigation is currently only for residences or property. Pedestrian traffic in neighborhoods aren't considered.

Posted by Rob Ketcherside at December 28, 2004 9:04 AM
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