Blocking out the noise

Blocking out the noise
A soundwall is proposed near this spot, which is north of Leucadia Boulevard. The council received an overview of potential soundwalls in Encinitas on Wednesday. Photo by Jared Whitlock

Encinitas City Council hears overview on building soundwalls

ENCINITAS — Some homeowners could find relief from the increasing din of Interstate 5 in the future.

The City Council received an overview on Wednesday night of proposed soundwalls designed to shield the noise from the I-5 widening project. The agenda item was part of an ongoing update on construction projects associated with the expansion.

From north of the Leucadia Boulevard interchange to south of the Encinitas Boulevard interchange, Caltrans plans to erect soundwalls ranging from 8 to 16 feet tall over the next two decades.

Ed Deane, senior civil engineer, said the soundwalls aim to decrease noise levels by at least five decibels for surrounding buildings and homes.

The proposed locations of soundwalls are based on which areas are louder than recommended standards. And the threshold varies depending on the type of development.

So, if an area overlooking the freeway is compromised of homes, soundwalls are prescribed if noise measures over 67 decibels from a backyard. Noise shouldn’t exceed 52 decibels from the inside of a school, Deane noted.

If noise measures beyond those standards, planners examine the topography of the land and whether it could accommodate a soundwall. Property ownership is also considered.

Mike Strong, associate planner with the city, said Caltrans looks to build soundwalls in the public-right-of-way. On private property, it’s up to the owner if a sound wall could go there.

Resident Richard Julian, who lives on Nolbey Drive, said he’s disappointed that a planned soundwall in Cardiff wouldn’t cover his neighborhood. He’s spent thousands of dollars on double pane windows, and neighbors have done the same.

“We hear that freeway 24/7,” Julian said.

“We all enjoy getting on the freeway and utilizing that amenity,” he added. “At the same time, we shoulder a lot of the responsibilities for increasing the capacity of the freeway.”

Four other public speakers also supported extending a soundwall to Nolbey Drive.

Those who want to comment on the soundwalls can email Strong at Feedback from the public and council will be presented to Caltrans and the California Coastal Commission in hopes the plan is amended.

In August, the Coastal Commission will decide whether to adopt Caltrans’ I-5 corridor plan.

It calls for adding four express lanes — two in each direction — between La Jolla and Oceanside. The lanes would be open to buses, carpoolers, motorcycles and solo drivers willing to pay a fee.

Councilwoman Kristin Gaspar proposed a city mailer in the next month to let more residents know about the impacts of the I-5 widening. Doing so will give people the chance to weigh in before plan goes before the Coastal Commission, she added.

Council will consider the mailer sometime next month. In the meantime, the city is letting people know about the project through its digital newsletter and on its website.

Maps of the proposed soundwall sites can be found in the council agenda reports on the city’s website at

Caltrans would pay for the 82 proposed soundwalls in North County as part of a $6.5 billion budget to overhaul the I-5 corridor.

Also, to offset the visual impact of the soundwalls, the city’s Arts Commission is looking to install artwork on them.




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