Proposed Highway Barrier Has Some Making Joyful Noises A Survey Of Residents Near Interstate 295 Found Support For A Wall To Block Traffic Sounds.

Posted: November 28, 1993

CHERRY HILL — The results are in. The noise wall's a hit.

Not everyone liked it, but most of the 82 people who filled out an Interstate 295 survey this summer - especially those in Cherry Hill and Mount Laurel - liked the idea of a sound barrier that could also serve as an environmental corridor, a teaching lab, an art gallery and a community center.

Copies of the questionnaire were available at libraries in Barrington, Haddon Heights, Cherry Hill, Mount Laurel and Gloucester City, the communities that would be affected by the wall.

The wall, proposed for the stretch of I-295 between I-76 and Route 73 to reduce traffic noise and pollution, received 85 percent approval.

Members of the commmittee that designed the wall and conducted the survey planned to deliver the results to the state Department of Transportation tomorrow during a 7 p.m. public meeting in the Cherry Hill community center.

All residents from the affected communities are welcome to attend.

Among other things, the results will show that nearly everyone - just under 90 percent of the respondents - liked the idea of planting trees and bushes along the wall.

Some people think planting is enough in itself.

Among the comments from opponents of the barrier were sentiments like these: "I'm against all barriers; plant more trees and bushes."

That's to be expected, committee chairwoman Yvette Kline said.

"There's consistently been a small percentage of people who don't want it."

Most of those people, it turned out, were in Haddon Heights, where the wall got only a 71 percent approval rating.

And even those in Haddon Heights, and elsewhere, who liked the wall were a little dubious about some of the proposed features. People were generally practical about the whole affair, going for the functional rather than the fun.

Take, for instance, the community theater and kiosk that had been proposed for one side of the wall, close to public lands in Cherry Hill. They didn't fly.

Fewer than 60 percent of the respondents said they thought the theater and kiosk were a good idea, so they will be eliminated from the final proposal.

Kline said the committee had agreed to recommend only those portions of the plan that at least 70 percent of the respondents favored.

That cutoff will also knock out the art.

Sculpture and such had been recommended, but even though more than 70 percent of the Cherry Hill and Mount Laurel respondents appreciated the idea, ratings of 47 percent in Haddon Heights and 58 percent in Barrington pulled the final tally below 70 percent.

The "twinkle gardens" and the graphics also bit the dust, checking in with a 69 percent approval rating.

But the air filters, designed to block out the carbon monoxide and other gases, were well-liked, as were designs that would measure and monitor air quality.

People loved the idea of making the wall out of recycled tires or some other environmentally responsible material. Ninety-seven percent of the respondents said they did, anyway.

And people did not seem upset by the suggestion of advertising on the wall.

According to survey organizers, 74 people made it all the way to the back of the survey to read about the ads, "and only seven felt compelled to comment negatively about them." That's fewer than 10 percent.

No one yet knows how much advertising might be needed to pay for the wall.

Even the most basic sound barrier costs $2 million a mile.

One man expected at tomorrow night's meeting is a feasibility contractor, who has the job of deciding what can be built and how much it might cost.

Kline said that's all up to the state now.

"Really what we're doing is delivering the people's will to the state, and that really puts the ball in their court. The public is pretty much stepping out of it."

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