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Windsor Highway 101 neighbors ready for sound walls

  • After dozens of years Bobbe Clark of Windsor, Thursday August 1, 2013, will be one of several people along Highway 101 in Windsor that will be getting a large retaining wall to block the noise of the highway instead of the fencing that has been used as a sound and perimeter barrier. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

Work on long-awaited freeway sound walls finally is underway in Windsor, much to the delight of residents like Bobbe Clark, whose backyard borders Highway 101.

"It's really going to be nice," said Clark, a part-time Wal-Mart cashier who's lived on Bluebird Court next to the freeway since 1971, enduring the steady din of traffic, punctuated by rumbling tractor-trailers and decibly endowed motorcycles.

Not only will the wall help muffle noise, it "will help with the dust going down," said Clark, who has to vacuum her house on a near daily basis.

Grading and work on the foundation and drainage began in earnest in July, even though the sound wall project apparently has been slowed by a mistake in the color of the walls.

"They're behind a little bit now. They were baking the bricks and they baked in the wrong colors," Town Councilwoman Debora Fudge said Thursday.

She said it was not the design selected by Windsor, because the dark and light gray composition contained too many dark bricks. But rather than delay the project further, the town is accepting it.

"I think we're being gracious to Caltrans to allow a different design because of their mistake," she said. "We don't want them to incur a huge extra cost."

The cost for the sound walls is included in a larger $28.7 million project involving an expanded and redesigned freeway interchange at Airport Boulevard, north of Santa Rosa.

When the sound walls were proposed five years ago, the plan was to extend them much farther along both sides of the road. But Windsor Town Council members objected to the tunnel-like effect it would produce. The length was then reduced following a series of public meetings and comment.

Caltrans officials previously estimated the walls would be in place by late September or early October, but were unable Thursday to verify a completion date.

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