ODOT Noise Walls and the City of Cleveland

Submitted by briancummins on Wed, 07/28/2010 - 17:51.


The following is a communications I sent out today to some of the leaders and residents in Brooklyn Centre as well as some of my colleagues on Council, ODOT and the Planning Commission.  It is in response to questions regarding the on-going issue of ODOT proposed noise walls in the City of Cleveland --
NOTE:  Image above is a photo of a product called Economy Green Barrier™,made by Cheviot Trees Ltd., UK – it’s an example of what we’d like ODOT to be able to test and approve for use in Ohio. It has noise absorptive characteristics as well as a green building system design.  ODOT's current pilot project for a green barrier solution is also referenced below
Questions regarding ODOT or City of Cleveland (Planning Commission) policy and regulations can be directed to the contacts listed below.
I understand that there have been questions raised on blogs and in off-line conversations about the lack of regulatory control in terms of Design & Review oversight and a lack of a cohesive plan from the City of Cleveland.  If the questions that people are coming to you involve these issues please have them call or email me directly and I can assist in responding, or have them contact the persons listed below.
My understanding is that until the walls were recommended on I-71 in Brooklyn Centre and Tremont, there was not that much deliberate collaboration or cross-ward conversations about noise walls and design concerns within the City of Cleveland - with the exception of Council President Sweeney and Councilman Keane in Ward 18 and 19 - where apparently there was 95% agreement within the communities impacted that people wanted the ODOT walls.
In speaking with Director Bob Brown about the issue, the Planning Commission has been involved but only in a cursory manner in being informed by ODOT of their process and work within neighborhoods and with Council persons.  My understanding is that the freeway and location of the walls are not covered in any design and review designated areas, i.e. Historic District or Business Revitalization District boundaries and therefore there is no official design and review procedure covering their installation.
Generally ODOT has responded that they work with each political jurisdiction, City Ward, Village etc... And will abide by the decision of the community and elected officials in terms of installing the walls that are approved on their list or alternatives that are permissible such as green vegetation or doing nothing if that is the will of the jurisdiction in question.  I've recently spoken with Director Brown, Council President Sweeney and Councilwoman Cleveland who Chairs Council's Planning Committee and they are willing to discuss with Director Brown the Planning Commission's role regarding the design issues and noise walls. 
I can only speak for myself at this point in saying that I've requested assistance from the Planning Commission to help with investigating and researching green noise mitigation alternatives as well as consideration for design elements that would be appropriate for comprehensive use throughout the City of Cleveland.
Lastly, as an outcome of the process I've been involved with thus far, I've contacted the Cleveland Botanical Garden and the Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District and have asked for assistance in plant identification for use in buffering the walls that are being installed on I-71.  Preliminary discussions have included the potential for developing some pilot areas where we could plant some native species of plants and test out their effectiveness.  Some plants mentioned already include:  trumpet vines and bluestem grass.
Also, FYI -- the issue of noise walls was covered by WCPN this morning in a news piece --
90.3 WCPN ideastream®: The Sound and the Fury Over Noise Walls
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
And, the issue will also be featured on tomorrow morning's WCPN Sound of Ideas show from 9:00 - 10:00 am --
With Guests:
Brian Cummins, Ward 14, Cleveland City Council
Dale Schiavoni, Transportation Planning and Programs Administrator, ODOT District 12
Ken Wohlgemuth, Brooklyn Centre resident
Bob Dyer, columnist, Akron Beacon Journal
David C. Barnett, ideastream

Bonita G. Teeuwen, P.E.
Deputy Director, District 12
5500 Transportation Blvd.
Garfield Heights, Oh. 44125

Dale Schiavoni, P.E.
Transportation Planning and Programs Administrator
District 12
Email: DSchiavo [at] dot [dot] state [dot] oh [dot] us

Bob Brown
Director, City Planning Commission
Scott Frantz
City Planning Commission
Brian Cummins
Cleveland City Council, Ward 14
216-664-4238 office


by BrianCummins on June 15, 2010.
ODOT’s RFP (PDF) regarding their pilot project for Green Noise Wall Construction and Evaluation and related article:


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WCPN tomorrow 9-10

Tune in tomorrow--