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Residents attend informational bypass meeting

By: Brandon Darnell, News Messenger Reporter
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Many of the approximately 100 residents crowded into a Club Lincoln room March 12 for a Highway 65-bypass update meeting were concerned about nighttime construction and sound walls. The majority of audience members were from Lincoln Crossing. The bypass is an 11.7-mile, $325-million project that will re-route the highway around Lincoln, taking off at Lincoln Crossing and rejoining the existing route at Sheridan. Representatives from Caltrans, the city of Lincoln and contractors for the project, DeSilva Gates and Flat Iron, were there to give information and answer questions from concerned residents. Carl Berexa, representing Caltrans, outlined several aspects of the freeway construction, schedule, route the road will follow and various details about the sound walls designed to reduce freeway noise for residents. The reason for the meeting, said Kari Ehrman, Caltrans’ spokeswoman, was “to let the people who are going to be impacted know about the construction.” The reason Lincoln Crossing was chosen, Ehrman said, was due to the community’s proximity to the Ferrari Ranch Road interchange, which will connect the area to the bypass when the project is complete. Bob Birdseye, a Lincoln Crossing resident, said he was concerned about nighttime construction, a problem that plagued him this past fall, just after the project started. Brian Connoly, the project’s manager from DeSilva Gates, said that any nighttime construction will be scheduled through Caltrans but that the majority of the construction work will be done during daylight hours. “Night work is not prohibited in the contract,” Berexa said, adding that all noise generated will be kept below 80 decibels. “At this point,” Berexa continued, “night work is not anticipated in residential areas.” The nighttime work that occurred last year, Berexa said, was an effort to get dirt moved before the wet weather started so construction could continue on schedule. “We don’t want to impact you,” Berexa told residents, adding, “There is a balance between public impact and public safety.” If traffic volumes necessitate it, Berexa said, then work will be done for safety reasons at night for certain parts of the project. “I almost feel they were here just to appease us and give short answers to our questions,” Birdseye said after the meeting. Another hot topic was the issue of sound walls, of which six are in the blueprints for the project, Berexa said. Those sound walls are mandated in the contract to reduce the freeway noise spreading to nearby homes. Those walls will be on either side of the road, ensuring that sound doesn’t bounce off one side and bombard the other side with increased noise. Lincoln Crossing resident Keith Schmidt said he attended the meeting to hear about the Ferrari Ranch Road interchange, as he lives very close to where the construction will take place. “I think Caltrans should have started out by saying it would take an act of Congress to change the designs,” Schmidt said in reference to several citizens requesting more sound walls be added. Schmidt added that he thought the meeting was helpful, since it allowed residents to ask questions, specifically regarding the sound walls and the freeway’s route, which he said are very important. Once construction is completed, Berexa said, residents can expect Ferrari Ranch Road to become busier as it will be one of the main routes to reach the city from Highway 65. Brandon Darnell can be reached by e-mail at brandond@goldcountrymedia.com.