After many years of complaints about the noise from Interstate 26, residents of Northwood Estates in North Charleston are getting another noise study to see if the highway near their homes is loud enough to warrant action.
“Hopefully it will go well for us, and we’ll get a noise wall eventually,” said Russell Coletti, president of the Northwood Estates Civic League.
Coletti and resident Virginia Jamison have been writing letters and meeting with officials for years.
“I’m just glad that Charleston County has seen fit to do the noise study,” said Jamison, of Long Shadow Drive. “I’ve lived here for over 25 years, and over the years the traffic has just increased exponentially.”
“My home backs up right to I-26,” she said. “It has just been terrible.”
A noise study was conducted by the state in 1998, but the state decided that building a sound wall would not be cost-effective, because it would cost more than $30,000 for every home that would benefit.
Jamison said that since 1998 the interstate has gotten busier, the area’s population has increased, and growth at the port means more trucks on the road.
Charleston County is paying $35,000 to conduct the new noise study this week. Noise receptors will be positioned at different locations in the neighborhood to sample noise levels.
“The county has received numerous requests from the citizens of this community since the widening of I-26 by SCDOT was completed and therefore the decision was made to have a consultant study the area to see if noise mitigation is warranted,” county spokesman Shawn Smetana said.
The big question is, if the study determines that a noise wall is needed, where will the money to pay for it come from?
“At this time, there has been no funding allocated for noise mitigation if the results of the study reveal that mitigation is warranted,” Smetana said. “Therefore, the result may identify a need for sound walls to mitigate the noise but there is no definitive path forward for the construction of walls or any other mitigation method at this time.”
When U.S. Highway 17 was widened recently in Mount Pleasant, a 10-foot sound wall installed at several locations cost $743,000 per half-mile.
The noise study will cover a roughly 1.7-mile stretch of I-26 — the westbound lanes just beyond Ashley Phosphate Road and Exit 209-A.
“I think persistence was the thing (needed to get the noise study), although it may have something to do with Ingleside Plantation getting built,” Coletti said.
Ingleside Plantation is a massive development planned on the opposite side of I-26, and part of that development plan calls for a new highway interchange. County Council Vice Chairman Elliott Summey is a vice president of the company developing the land, Weber USA.
Smetana said the noise study is not related to the Ingleside Development but is responding to residents’ concerns.
Noise along the eastbound lanes of the highway will not be studied.
The Colony North subdivision is closest to the eastbound lanes, above Ashley Phosphate Road. Civic Association President Noel Casey said the subdivision doesn’t have any homes right next to the interstate, like Northwood Estates does.
“We looked at a house on Long Shadow Drive some years back,” Casey said. “In the back yards of some of those houses, you had to shout to be heard.”
Reach David Slade at 937-5552