Diamondhead noise barrier could take years even if approved

Diamondhead noise barrier could take years even if approved
This rendition from MDOT shows what the noise barrier along Interstate 10 in Diamondhead could look like.

DIAMONDHEAD, MS (WLOX) - The Mississippi Department of Transportation had its first meeting to discuss a potential sound barrier along the I-10 corridor in Diamondhead.

Even if residents say yes, there still could be a no in the future.

Robert Redd likes the idea of the sound barrier. "I'm hard of hearing," he said. "In my back yard, we can hardly carry on a conversation sometimes of the day."

He lives about 400 ft. from the interstate. His home is one of about 183 parcels in what would be in the nearly 2-mile-long noise zone. Redd stated, "I'm in favor of it because we won't get many chances to get federal and state sponsorship of that wall."

Federal law requires that residents in that zone, who endure more than 67 decibels of noise, give approval for the wall construction.

"We'll actually make contact with the parcels that are affected," said MDOT district engineer Kelly Castleberry. "Then get their decision on what they want, either way. They can comment on it verbally or the comment card. They can write in and say what they would like."

Terry Waltman doesn't live in the zone but said the noise carries way beyond the area. "The further away from the sound barrier you live, the less benefit you are going to get from it," she said.

In addition to the wall, she wants more trees as a buffer to replace the ones destroyed after Katrina. "I always thought it was because of the interstate that I could hear more after Katrina, but then when I built my home, which is closer to the Country Club, I'm like wow, it comes all the way back here," explained Waltman.

A simple majority vote will give MDOT its direction. It will take about two months.

Construction of the wall would occur only at the same time the interstate is widened to six lanes. For now, no one knows when that will be.

"Unless a pot of money gets found, either through the legislature or federal government, then right now the project is indefinitely on hold," Castleberry said.

That could be a long time coming for residents.

Redd added, "I may not live long enough to ever see it completed."

The funding for the wall, estimated at $4 million, would be 80 percent federal and 20 percent state. The cost won't be passed on to the residents.

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