Residents split on noise walls

Most homeowners who find themselves snuggled up close to I-5 in Everett are clamoring for the state to erect sound walls as part of a plan to widen the freeway.

But not every homeowner wants the noise walls.

More than half the folks who own homes along a four-block section of Summit and Highland avenues in the north Everett Riverside neighborhood would rather keep their view of the Cascades than block freeway noise.

“We normally build sound walls, but we don’t want to do it if (the residents) don’t want it,” said Victoria Tobin, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation.

Funded by the 5-cent-a-gallon gasoline tax the Legislature approved in 2003, the $221 million widening project will extend a carpool lane from Highway 526, the Boeing freeway, north to U.S. 2, and add an all-purpose lane from 41st Street SE to U.S. 2. The lanes will be added northbound and southbound. Construction is scheduled to start in June and could finish by the end of 2007.

The state plans to build three miles of sound walls where there are high concentrations of homes along the route. That leaves out folks such as Pat Parkins, who lives just east of I-5 in the sparsely populated Sylvan Crest neighborhood.

Parkins said traffic on I-5 has become so bad that she chokes on noise and exhaust “every day.”

“I’ve lived here long enough that I can shut (the traffic) out – I just tell myself it’s the ocean,” Parkins said. “It’s mainly those semis with their brakes. When they go off in the middle of the night, you come straight out of bed.”

The state allows the property owners of the two rows of homes closest to the freeway to vote on whether they want sound walls if there appears to be dissension in a neighborhood. The results of just such a vote were presented to two groups of Riverside property owners at a meeting Wednesday night.

Homeowners who live south of 23rd Street overwhelmingly support building a sound wall south to Everett Avenue, but the folks who live north of 23rd Street aren’t so sure they want a wall planned for 23rd Street to 19th Street.

“I can’t believe the people in my neighborhood would want a wall,” said Doris Vanderway, a Riverside resident who lives along the proposed north wall.

She fears her view of the mountains would be obstructed. She also worries about her property value.

A decision will likely be made by the end of the year, said Roland Benito, Transportation Department engineer on the project.

Sound walls reduce traffic noise by at least seven decibels in homes closest to the freeway, and can often reduce noise much more if the homes are especially close, said Lawrence Spurgeon, an environmental engineering consultant for the Transportation Department.

Spurgeon said noise on I-5 in Everett ranges from 55 to 75 decibels. At 67 decibels, it starts to become difficult to hold a conversation with someone standing next to you, he said.

Reporter Lukas Velush: 425-339-3449 or

Talk to us

More in Local News

A memorial for a 15-year-old shot and killed last week is set up at a bus stop along Harrison Road on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Teen boy identified in fatal shooting at Everett bus stop

Bryan Tamayo-Franco, 15, was shot at a Hardeson Road bus stop earlier this month. Police arrested two suspects.

Mike Bredstrand, who is trying to get back his job with Lake Stevens Public Works, stands in front of the department’s building on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Lake Stevens, Washington. Bredstrand believes his firing in July was an unwarranted act of revenge by the city. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lake Stevens worker was fired after getting court order against boss

The city has reportedly spent nearly $60,000 on attorney and arbitration fees related to Mike Bredstrand, who wants his job back.

Chap Grubb, founder and CEO of second-hand outdoor gear store Rerouted, stands inside his new storefront on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, in Gold Bar, Washington. Rerouted began as an entirely online shop that connected buyers and sellers of used gear.  (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Used outdoor gear shop Rerouted finds a niche in Gold Bar

Seeking to keep good outdoor gear out of landfills, an online reselling business has put down roots in Gold Bar.

Naval Station Everett. (Chuck Taylor / Herald file)
Everett man sentenced to 6 years for cyberstalking ex-wife

Christopher Crawford, 42, was found guilty of sending intimate photos of his ex-wife to adult websites and to colleagues in the Navy.

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers speaks to the crowd during an opening ceremony at the new PAE2 Amazon Fulfillment Center on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Snohomish County executive pitches $1.66B budget

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers announced his proposed budget Tuesday afternoon. Public comment is slated to begin Oct. 10.

Boeing employees watch the KC-46 Pegasus delivery event  from the air stairs at Boeing on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Boeing’s iconic Everett factory tour to resume in October

After a three-year hiatus, tours of the Boeing Company’s enormous jet assembly plant are back at Paine Field.

Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman announces his retirement after 31 years of service at the Everett City Council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett police chief to retire at the end of October

Chief Dan Templeman announced his retirement at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. He has been chief for nine years.

Jamel Alexander, center, listens as a Snohomish County jury records their verdict of guilty, in the murder of Shawna Brune, on Tuesday, May 18, 2021 in Everett, Washington.  Alexander was convicted in the first degree murder of Brune. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Appeals court orders new trial in Everett woman’s stomping death

Appellate judges ruled that additional evidence should have been admitted in Jamel Alexander’s trial for the murder of Shawna Brune.

Kristy Carrington, CEO of Providence Swedish of North Puget Sound, speaks during a Healthcare Summit at Everett Community College on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Providence, Optum and Premera discuss challenges at Everett summit

Five panelists spoke on labor shortages, high costs and health care barriers Wednesday at Everett Community College.

Most Read