– Opinions of residents who live nearby the U.S. 101/Tenth
Street off-ramp will determine whether a 16-foot-high,
2,100-foot-long sound wall gets built in the coming months.
GILROY – Opinions of residents who live nearby the U.S. 101/Tenth Street off-ramp will determine whether a 16-foot-high, 2,100-foot-long sound wall gets built in the coming months.
City officials scrambled Monday and Tuesday to send a formal recommendation to the Valley Transportation Authority opposing the sound wall Mayor Tom Springer called a “graffiti trap.” In what was a “surprise” move to city officials, the VTA proposed building the sound wall as it does ongoing ramp improvement work on Tenth Street/Highway 152.
“This totally caught us off guard,” a dismayed Springer said Monday. “They can’t find the money to put a light at the Gilroy Foods intersection, but they can find money to put up this eyesore.”
City Traffic Engineer Kristi Abrams drafted a letter to the VTA Tuesday telling the transit agency Gilroy does not want another sound wall. In the letter, Council asks the VTA to consider using Gilroy standards for constructing the sound wall if it must be built.
VTA currently is polling residents who lives near the industrial area off U.S. 101 and Highway 152 to see if there is a demand for a sound attenuation in the area. According to Abrams, the VTA will base its decision on the will of those home dwellers.
On VTA books now are two versions of the wall – a straight 2,100-foot wall running along U.S. 101 and a staggered wall that immediately borders the residential area.
Council is adamant against the staggered wall because the city would have to pay for maintenance, since it doesn’t parallel the freeway. The straight sound wall would be maintained by Caltrans.
Gilroy recently adopted an ordinance governing sound wall construction which calls for the cement brick structures to be covered with vegetation or scrapped altogether in favor of dirt berms or walls of trees. When sound levels do not need to be significantly reduced, the Gilroy ordinance calls for no sound wall to be built.
In other business, City Council:
• approved, unanimously, a portion of a downtown stimulus package that waives various impact fees and zoning requirements for new businesses along Monterey Street between Leavesley Road and Tenth Street.
Under the stimulus package, new businesses will not have to provide parking if they open a Monterey Street store. City officials claim there currently is adequate parking available on downtown streets and side lots.
• authorized city officials to meet with Union Pacific representatives regarding the railroad company’s 12-acre lot in downtown Gilroy along the train tracks between Ninth and Old Gilroy streets.
The lot is being considered for housing an antique railroad museum. Museum developers and city officials want UP to donate a portion of the parcel for the museum.