Update on proposed controversial sound barrier

by: Scott Wickersham Updated:

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CHARLOTTE - As Department of Transportation officials prepare to add toll lanes and widen part of Interstate 77 and the Interstate 277 loop they're also considering a sound barrier wall on certain parts of 277.

They've asked some residential property owners to vote on it.

But some land and business owners who claim they stand to lose big if the wall is built say they need a vote too.

And they're willing to go to court to get it.   

Sam Esmail owns land on North Tryon Street right next to the highway.

He says the 15- 30 foot wall, when built on the already-elevated highway, will ruin the value for a future development.

"The city is finally talking about changing the North Tryon area. It’s just going to block North Tryon from the uptown area," says Esmail.

Esmail and real estate agent John Nichols who owns land also touching 277, are upset they don’t have a vote in the process.

"You get the view of downtown. It’s an elevated view. That will block it. You might as well be driving through a tunnel in L.A. " says Nichols.

DOT engineer Louis Mitchell met with Charlotte planning leaders to prepare for the wall.

He says vacant lots and businesses don't get to vote because they have what he calls a higher "threshold for noise".
       
As for why the DOT is doing this, he says federal standards require they explore this option.

"Noise is one effect of expanding the road. so we are trying to abate that in accordance with federal guidelines" says Mitchell.

Votes have to be mailed by Feb. 19.
           
City Council will get an update on the project on Feb. 17.