Sound dampening walls on either side of MoPac were a must have when the expressway expansion project was first pitched. 40% are currently up. In those neighborhoods, residents tell FOX7 they're now hearing things other than the usual traffic noise from behind their homes.
"Yeah the one thing you can hear more than anything are Doves, and I think that’s great because they are all around, you can hear the woodpeckers now, so I'd agree with you, I think what it’s done is it kind of made it a little more of a quieter peaceful backyard, which is all a home owner really wants,” said Bryan Foreman.
Before the walls started going up, a study determined the noise level - in targeted locations- was around 70 decibels if not more. That’s a little less than the grind from a kitchen garbage disposal. The walls, according to Steve Pustelnyk with the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, are expected to provide a 5 to 7 decibel reduction.
"This is old school, concrete wall blocking sound waves and that effectively keeps them from getting to your property at the volume level they have historically,” said Pustelnyk.
Patricia Andrews, who grew up near Harris Blvd and the Hartford Triangle, says the walls have also, somewhat, tamed a noisy neighbor.
“When we grew up we could hear the trains all the time, which was fun, I like the train, but every time the train went by it rattled the windows, and so now we don’t have the rattling windows. We can still hear the train but it’s not a crazy loud thing,” said Andrews.
There's certainly a lot of work left to be done, but one section of this long overdue project is very close to opening. The north bound toll lane is targeted to open by the end of July. While it’s a major milestone-- only the part between RR2222 and Parmer Lane will be operational.
"We will be charging tolls from the minute we open, but the tolls will be relatively low. Our lowest rate for this section is 25-cents,” said Pustelnyk.
The maximum price to avoid the work week gridlock- initially - is expected to be around $3. Opening the southbound toll lanes - and completing the rest of the project is slated for November - or December. That will give commuters something to be thankful for - or possibly an early holiday present.
"I do believe in Santa Claus, but I'll believe the walls will be ready when it’s really ready, it’s taken a long time,” said Andrews.
Project managers considered coating the walls with an anti- graffiti texture, but that’s expensive. To control costs, it was decided to use standard paint to cover up any markings that may happen.