Interstate expansion includes sound barriers for Sarasota residents

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- Living near Interstate 75 may be more peaceful in the near future. The state plans to build a sound barrier wall near Fruitville Road.

Apartments and townhomes line the noisy I-75 corridor at the Fruitville off-ramp, and that's why the Florida Department of Transportation is taking measures to minimize the noise once the interstate expansion begins next year.

"The noise will obviously make a lot of people feel better…feel more comfortable, can sleep better at night, you know with the highway noise and everything. So I do think it's a great idea," says Maria Lizardi, a resident at Gateway Lakes.

"I'm very happy that we're getting it. I think it will really benefit our neighborhood," says Rose Hames, a resident in San Palermo.

The 22-foot sound barrier is part of the state's overall improvement to the University Parkway interchange project, which includes widening the interstate by one lane from Fruitville Road to University Parkway.

The wall will be similar to those along Interstate 4, and will be constructed along the western side of I-75 from Fruitville Road to the boat ramp at Nathan Benderson Park.

"They are effective. They will reduce the amount of noise. There are of course disadvantages; some people feel like they've been walled in, it can reduce the amount of sunlight. But for the most part, the advantage is having that noise level reduced significantly," says FDOT’s Lauren Hatchell.

The decision to install the wall was based on a federal sound study by the Department of Transportation. FDOT also held a public workshop and surveyed residents to gain feedback on what they would like to see.

The majority surveyed said they wanted the sound barrier, and marked which color and texture they preferred after looking at examples of current walls.

"We saw plans of what it might look like, and I think it's going to be pretty attractive. You know, it's not going to be some ugly thing. It's going to be a nice fixture."

Residents can expect to see the walls go up during the construction phase of the project, which could begin, as early as next spring.