Hancock County

Why Mississippi might spend millions to build a wall in Diamondhead

Interstate 10 can get noisy, expecially when its busy and you live just yards from the interstate.
Interstate 10 can get noisy, expecially when its busy and you live just yards from the interstate. SUN HERALD File

They’re talking about building a wall.

If you live in Diamondhead, you probably will want to be listening. Taxpayers should listen up, too. Millions of dollars of their money could be spent.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation isn’t saying much about a plan to build a noise-buffering wall along I-10 near Diamondhead if I-10 is widened by a lane in each direction from just west of the Diamondhead interchange to just east of the Wolf River.

“A study has been performed to determine the projected increase in noise levels based on traffic growth from the added travel lanes,” a meeting notice from MDOT said. “The study concluded that a noise wall would provide a reasonable benefit if constructed. The decision to construct a noise wall will depend on whether a majority of the benefited residences want the wall or not.

“A public meeting has been scheduled to discuss the noise study, provide information regarding the potential noise wall, give an opportunity for the public to ask questions and express concerns, and allow the benefited residents to vote on the wall.”

The specifics of the study and details of the plan — the height of the wall and the cost, for example —won’t released until that meeting from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Diamondhead City Hall, 5000 Diamondhead Circle. All the whats, whens and wheres will be revealed then.

“There will be people there who can answer all your questions,” said Jas N Smith, MDOT spokesman. “Well, they can try anyway.”

Traffic walls first started going up in the early 1960s and were required in certain situations by the 1970s highway act.

Experts say the closer houses are to the wall, the bigger the difference residents will notice if the wall is built. For the wall to be most effective, it will need to be high enough that a person standing in Diamondhead won’t be able to see the top of a semi exhaust stack as it passes by.

Councilwoman Nancy Depreo lives more than a mile north of the interstate and said she can hear the cars when she’s sitting outside at night, particularly when they drift too close to the edge and hit the rumble strips.

“I’m pretty far way but some houses are right up against it,” she said. “In fact when we were looking at houses in the early ’90s, we looked at a home over there and didn’t buy it because of that.”

Paul Hampton: 228-284-7296, @JPaulHampton

How loud is it?

Diesel truck at about 50 feet — 80 dB

Shouting at 3 feet away — 80 dB

Lawn mower at about 90 feet away — 70 dB

Quiet urban area at night — 40 dB

Surburbs at night — 30 dB

Rural areas at night — 20 dB

Federal Highway Administration