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Freeway noise at Memorial Park

What’s that you say? Speak up, I can’t hear you. There’s a plan to reduce noise at Memorial Park? Well, why didn’t you say so?

Under a plan that would be financed by the Texas Department of Transportation, the city’s parks department is weighing whether to allow a large sound-barrier wall in a 2,000-foot swath along the freeway between Washington and the West Loop.

The 16-foot-high wall, which could cost as much as $480,000, could substantially reduce the traffic noise in a popular area near the small, asphalt track and nearby tennis center, parks officials say.

“It would make quite a bit of a difference,” said Joe Turner, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department director. “This is the piece where we’re right on top of the freeway, with a huge concentration of runners and tennis players every day.”

The barrier still is in the conceptual stages, as officials work to get input from City Council members and key stakeholders, such as the Memorial Park Conservancy.

Sally Tyler, the conservancy’s executive director, said her organization is working with the city but isn’t yet sold on the idea. The park’s executive committee recently wrote Turner, saying it wants to see designs before passing judgment.

“In lieu of a concrete wall, trees might serve as a natural sound barrier,” she said, adding that sound could travel over and around a wall.

I guess a wall is okay. I don’t spend that much time at Memorial Park, so I really hadn’t given the matter any thought. I kind of like the tree idea, truth be told, but I daresay it’d take awhile to show some real results. Color me ambivalent.

Ambivalent to method, that is, not to the benefit. Reducing noise in general, especially near I-10 and 610, is a Good Thing. You may recall there was a lawsuit filed against TxDOT last January over the design of the interchanges at those freeways; the suit alleges that TxDOT did not follow federal regulations for noise abatement. More on that is here. I’ve also received
this letter (PDF) regarding the noise levels for I-10 near Memorial Park. It’s pretty technical – I know I’ve got a few transportation geeks in my audience; this should be right up your alley. I’m hearing there’s going to be a lot more, well, noise, regarding this issue, so stay tuned and we’ll see what happens.

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  1. Charles Hixon says:

    Drivers along the route should have a vote. One continuous honk for concrete barriers and a long series of short honks for trees.

  2. Scott says:


    More than half of the land between Washington and the West Loop is owned by the Bayou Club. (They own the polo field and lease it out to the polo people.) This fence benefits them more than anyone else, that way they can have lunch on the veranda uninterrupted by trucks downshifting. If you don’t know where the Bayou Club is, you likely aren’t the type of person who could become a member, and if you have to ask how much membership costs, you won’t be invited to join. These people could pay half a million out of pocket change, but they’ve conned everyone to have the public pay for this amenity for their club.

    Congratulations on the new baby!

    Faithfully submitted.