City Council begins process of noise study on stretch of I-90

Published 5:59 pm Tuesday, September 20, 2022

The City of Austin will start looking into the viability of a noise study for the Interstate 90 bridge project, without the support of the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

During a work session Monday night, the City Council agreed to start the process of a noise study for a strip of I-90 called Pasture Heights between Fourth Street NW and the Cedar River. It’s along this stretch that some in the public have complained that traffic can be so loud that it becomes hard to enjoy even being in the backyard. It’s also resulted in debris striking and damaging homes along that stretch.

The price tag for the study, however, will fall on the shoulders of the city after MnDOT determined that the project did not trigger a noise study.

A noise study would cost around $8,000 for this section of Austin. City Engineer Steven Lang said that should the noise study meet the threshold for a noise wall, then the next step would include reviewing the plan with the neighborhood to determine if the project has the support to move forward.

Should the city move forward with erecting a noise wall alongside the interstate, it would add a cost of between $1.3 and $1.8 million for around 1,200 linear feet. The local share of that, Lang said, would cost between $250,000 and $350,000.

While city council members were largely in favor of pursuing the study for this stretch, they held back on looking at two other sites that were of a similar make-up:

• Between 14th Street and Fourth Street NW, and

• The Wildwood Park neighborhood to the west of Hormel Corporate North.

“I think the least painful thing is one noise study and see what we got,” said Councilman Geoff Baker, who has been a proponent of a noise study.

The move does raise questions, including whether or not the city could access rates to the residents living in Pasture Heights or pay for it from the general fund, a question posed by Councilman Mike Postma to which City Administrator Craig Clark said assessment could be an option.

However, that decision wouldn’t be made until the city and neighborhood residents met to see if they would move forward with the plan.

Councilwoman Joyce Poshusta, looking at it from the other side, raised concerns citing potential safety issues with view impairment, night time shadows creating ice patches on roadways, as well as attracting graffiti.

In other news

• The Austin City Council during its regular meeting approved its 4.3% levy increase as well as set its Truth in Taxation meeting for 6 p.m. on Dec. 7 in the Council Chambers.