Gloria Ferris

one woman’s view from a place by the zoo in the city

Tuesday’s ODOT thread about best practices, and bringing current practices into compliance

with 10 comments

The thread left off around 10 PM last night, and continues with Darren’s post just after that, carrying forward to Tuesday. Frank Mestnik found out that The Living Wall costs $750 a meter. At $2,000,000 a mile, ODOT’s solution should cost $1,242 a meter. The ODOT solution is 165% of The Living Wall solution, and we still have not verified the cost of the wall installation at this proposed site. The contract, we hear, was awarded to Great Lakes Construction, presumably the one from Hinckley

1 meter = 3.2808399 feet

More about calculator.

Here is the ongoing conversation:


Johanna and Joe (

Attached is copy of the ODOT Sound Barrier survey that I circulated with Tom Sorge from ODOT in August. We spent the evening covering a large majority of the targeted area.

My perception of the outcome, though never confirmed, was that the survey participants were split fairly evenly and those farther east in the area far more in favor of seeing the barriers installed. However, I was definitely pushing those I spoke with to consider the long term implications and alternatives. So long as that information was presented, it seemed many were interested in green or similar solutions.

I guess it should be noted that this is in the hands of an entity that believes greening efforts are not considered a viable abatement strategy and that trees are a deadly hazard to "their" roads. I’d be happy to share more information and research if necessary.


ODOT Noise Abatement Options Questionnaire_Page_1 ODOT Noise Abatement Options Questionnaire_Page_2 ODOT Noise Abatement Options Questionnaire_Page_3



Dear XXXXX–,

We’ve taken the thread of yesterday’s emails concerning ODOT’s surreptitious handling of the sound-wall issue  and assembled it on a few of our blogs. One of them is here:

We believe this discussion should be expanded in that it affects not only those people with contiguous properties but everybody who lives in a neighborhood and who would have to drive by high-prioced bad design every day, never knowing what was on the other side of the wall. We happen to have a park neighborhood which we are reclaiming and restoring, and we are proud of what we have; we don’t want to be walled off by expensive, intrusive structures. We are still waiting for a presentation of natural alternatives to abate sound–this is ostensibly the purpose of the ODOT walls.

What we do here in Brooklyn Centre by way of design impacts the entire city, and these walls are at odds with a city and a state that claim they are "green" and cost-conscious and wanting to attract people who have those same values. We are the gateway to the city, we have much green space, and we can be more attactive than we already are if ODOT  would augment the barriers we already have by installing more natural barriers; the fact that ODOT has already maintained the side of the right-of-way poorly is no reason to erect walls to hide a record of bad practice.

The cost of natural barriers is, I have been told, about 1/5th of the cost of the artificial barriers, which I was also told cost approximately $2 million dollars per mile, on one side. This is an election year; cost, waste, extravagance, pork, insensitivity, and plain old just not listening to constituents can really be meaty issues. Certain people have offered to contact Strickland and Fisher on these points on behalf of those of us who want more sensible solutions than what ODOT is forcing on us.

The surveys conducted by ODOT are another issue; they seem slanted and need to be vetted to make sure they are more fair. Why are they on such close hold, even with the trees about to be cut any moment?

How well we implement from this point forward has a huge impact on our future; wasteful spending and poorly designed installations are things we must put behind us. Simply stated, we cannot afford dumb stuff at high prices. We would like to show some intelligence in what we do and how we live.

The city would do well to have guidelines in place for intelligent design, friendly to the environment, in consonance with the existing built environment. Has Watterson’s office dealt with this at all, and if so, what was the outcome?

Anyway, please share the synopsis of yesterday’s thread as widely as possible with people interested in seeing a living city emerge and thrive, with people who consider the barrier walls something akin to a "concentration camp."

With the money we save with a natural sound-barrier installation in Brooklyn Centre, perhaps we can repair the walls out by the airport, which are a regional disgrace and which should have been maintained long ago.

If there is no money for maintenance and repair, why should any city allow the state to install these in the first place? What are the incentives, because all we can see from our vantage point are negatives.



Dear Frank:
I just wanted to let you know that the records you requested will be ready later today.  As you also know, there is a meeting being scheduled regarding the issue for today.  Hopefully, we’ll have the records to you prior to that meeting.

As part of ODOT’s 2010-2011 Business Plan, we are committed to using the best environmentally-sensitivity practices in our operations and pilot new green initiatives as ODOT leads by example in embracing environmental stewardship and reducing energy consumption.  I’ve passed this along to our Office of Innovation, Partnerships and Energy and ask that it be something they look into further for possible consideration in future projects.  We would be very interested in working with Mr. Ferris in the future regarding the initiative.

From my very quick Web search of the topic, there appears to be very little research on Living Walls for noise abatement purposes and even less information on the cost of such a proposal.  In fact, so far, the only research done on a Green or Living noise wall was done by WisDOT entitled “Living Noise Wall – Final Report" dated January 1998.  A failure in the plastic cribbing caused a collapse of a portion (100’) of the structure.  We will certainly need more research to ensure this type of wall meets federal requirements for addressing noise conditions and can withstand northeast Ohio conditions.

Although we didn’t propose a living wall for the location along I-71, we do have a research project underway that will build and test a section of green wall along a 400 foot section of Interstate 70 in Licking County near Columbus.  That test section will use the "Deltalok" system which is similar to what Mr. Ferris proposed.  Here is the Web site for more information:  It’s a different concept than this one, so down the road, we can study an option like this one to compare the different types.

Please feel free to pass this along to whomever you feel appropriate!

For more information on our "Go with Green" initiative please follow the link below:

Safe and pleasant travels,

Jocelynn Clemings, Public Information Officer
Ohio Department of Transportation
District 12: Serving Cuyahoga, Lake & Geauga Counties
Ph: 216.584.2006
"Moving Ohio into a Prosperous New World"



Dear Mr. Ferris and Ms. Ferris:
Please see the below e-mail written this morning to Mr. Mestnik.  I think it will address many of the questions you posed in your previous e-mails.  Please feel free to contact me or Transportation Planning and Programs Administrator Dale Schiavoni (who is copied on this e-mail) again if you have any other questions.
Mr. Schiavoni will also be available at today’s meeting regarding the I-71 noise walls.
Safe and pleasant travels,
Jocelynn Clemings, Public Information Officer
Ohio Department of Transportation
District 12: Serving Cuyahoga, Lake & Geauga Counties
Ph: 216.584.2006
"Moving Ohio into a Prosperous New World"




Thanks. I know of no meeting today. Tell me more, with detail, please. This is short notice. The last thing we heard from Councilman Cummins was something about Thursday.

We were promised that the dialogue would be far more extensive than it has been, that ODOT would make an attempt to save money and also do a more “green” implementation, in line with other things we do.

We are nowhere near done talking here. As things stand for us, the proposed ODOT implementation not only costs way more than it needs to cost, and cheapens the surrounding area in the process. This is a perverse dynamic.



I would like to point out that the neighborhood that ODOT is so intent on “Walling off” as if we were some dead zone from a science fiction movie is the home of the Cleveland Metro Park Zoo, one of the foremost ranking Zoo’s in the country and the single most visited recreational destination in the County.  It is also the home of Riverside Cemetery, one of the oldest, historical and most picturesque park like Cemeteries in the city of Cleveland.  It is also the neighborhood that has recently received three of the ReImaging Cleveland grants which is an initiative that has received Federal funds to help the City of Cleveland transform vacant city-owned land bank lots into community assets and create new and sustainable land reuses of those vacant lots.  This program was applauded by Mayor Jackson as a way to “bring a progressive outlook to a sustainable vision in our neighborhoods.”   Cleveland claims to be striving to be more eco-friendly.  We have all heard the new catch phrase “A green city on a blue lake.”  The local politicos and movers and shakers are all giving lip service to being environmentally aware and “thinking green.”   But they are all willing to turn a blind eye and let ODOT do whatever it wants, regardless of what the community wants, just so they can justify spending money and justify their existence.  Why not use that money to fix the broken walls that are already in place?  Oh, that’s right, ODOT claims, there is no money to fix the walls or to maintain them.  Then why do they think we would want MORE walls? 

I’d like to know what the people at ReImaging Cleveland think about this issue.  How about the Neighborhood Progress folks?  Sustainable Cleveland?  And what about all the other groups and organizations out there trying to improve our Cleveland neighborhoods?  What do you think Mayor Jackson?  You’re the one asking us to provide a progressive outlook in our neighborhoods.  How do concrete walls fit into that vision? 



Good one—I’ll post it with today’s collection late this evening



Dear residents and stakeholders,

This message is intended to update and inform people regarding the status of the ODOT Noise Mitigation project:  I-71 from Pearl Road/W. 25th Street to Fulton Avenue.

Summary timeline – ODOT concluded its noise analysis back in April of 2009 and at that time prepared various potential alternative designs for noise mitigation walls based on their noise analysis of the project area.

Project meetings were held by ODOT with the public through September – October of 2009 (north and south sections of the community) and public outreach on the streets immediately affected continued through November as well as in February/March of 2010.

We’ve recently learned that ODOT went to bid with project in March 2010 and Greatlakes Construction received the $2.5 million contract in April. Surveying began in June and as many of you are aware trees began to be marked for removal this past week.

We’ve learned that construction is anticipated to be from July through October 2010 with tree and drilling work first and then wall placement to follow.

In communications with ODOT over the past month my office sought clarification regarding the final plans for walls and requested to have input into those plans before they were implemented.  We had a meeting scheduled with ODOT officials for Thursday of this week, but through our discussions ODOT agreed earlier this morning to meet in the field today.  Johanna Hamm and I spent several hours in the field with ODOT officials this morning reviewing plans and discussing operations.

Plans for a Public Meeting –  We are coordinating with Applewood Centers to secure their auditorium/gym for a public meeting for either Wed/Thurs. June 30th/July 1st at 6:30 pm.  We’ll send out an email as soon as we confirm this as well as work with local area CDCs to help flyer notices.

The Project – We are working with ODOT to ensure that noise barrier walls will only be placed in areas between Pearl and Fulton along I-71 where the majority of homeowners expressed a strong interest in them.  ODOT’s plans were to install walls the full length of the access road on the south side of the freeway and from the Jones Home (W. 25th St.) to W. 39th Street on the north side, leaving the portion that abuts Smith Avenue as is – with no wall installed.

In our discussions today ODOT is willing to considering changing their plans to eliminate the installation of a wall from W. 39th St. to Fulton on the southern side of the freeway.  There are a majority of property owners that would rather not have a wall in this area and to maintain the lush tree growth instead.  Other changes we hope to influence include backing the wall off of the eastern entrance and exit of the access ramps at Pearl Road/W. 25th Street to better protect the viewsheds of that corridor, and additional discussions are occurring with property owners in these areas to help delineate where the walls would begin.  In addition, we walked the project area and reviewed the trees that are marked for removal and the contractor will be working to try to save as many trees as possible given the 10-foot width requirements for installation.

NOTE:  See the enclosed reference map.  The project area only consists of the areas labeled NSA3 and NSA4.  NSA 1, 2 & 5 are not being considered for a wall.  Also, the area to the north beginning at W. 39th and extending to Fulton Road will not see a wall installed and we’re working with ODOT to ensure a wall will not be installed on the south side of the project, also from W. 39th to Fulton.

In terms of a green-structure alternative to the cement walls, ODOT has stated that they will not be considering this as an option.  They have responded that they need more research to ensure this type of wall would meet federal requirements (There is an example that has been given in Canada provided by resident Ken Wohlgemuth) for addressing noise conditions.  And, that without that, this type of solution would not be available at this time.

My perspective on this issue is that it is a tough balancing act to 1) be responsive to the majority of residents that are most negatively impacted by the sound of the freeway – many of them have expressed their frustrations over the last 6-years that it has taken this long to get a project of this kind funded.  And, 2) on the other, with all of the greening activities we’ve seen in the last 5-plus years with groups like Friends of Big Creek and the Brooklyn Centre Naturalist and recent Reimagining Cleveland Projects (BCCA & BCN) projects we’re aware of the desire by many oppose such  noise walls in our neighborhood or loss of any existing trees.

As a compromise we want to work with ODOT as described above in terms of limiting as much as possible the installation of the walls only where they will mitigate noise for a majority of residents who want them, and also see if we can either reallocate/apportion funding out of this project or seek out additional funding for more landscaping and buffering for the entire area covered by the project.  We also want to work to see what can be done for better landscaping and improved fencing at the end points of the project (entrance and exit ramps) where on the western end Metroparks has been helpful in maintaining and improving the areas, and to work with and learn from the Tremont neighborhood’s implementation of a vegetative screening in lieu of noise walls in their neighborhood.

If anyone has any questions please contact me and please feel free to post comments as well on the pages referenced above.




Brian J. Cummins

Councilman, Ward 14

Cleveland City Council

City Hall, Room 220

601 Lakeside Avenue

Cleveland, OH  44114

216-664-4238  office

216-664-3837  fax

Johanna V. Hamm

Executive Assistant, Ward 14

NOTE: This information will also be posted as a link on the at the blog site and the Brooklyn Centre Community Association facebook page


sound wall

Written by Gloria Ferris

June 15th, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Posted in general

10 Responses to 'Tuesday’s ODOT thread about best practices, and bringing current practices into compliance'

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  1. If they’re not installing walls in areas as you say, then why are all the trees in those areas marked to be cut down. As ODOT told Frank Mestnik, they are planning to clear-cut the area. Who’s in charge of making sure we don’t have another big OOPS!,like the demolition of the perfectly good house on Riverside??

    Tim Ferris

    15 Jun 10 at 9:30 PM

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