The Sound of the 290 Expansion

A small group of homeowners that includes residents of Timbergrove, Brookwoods Estates, and Holly Park have filed a lawsuit against the Federal Highway Administration claiming that the agency approved the expansion of Hwy. 290 along the 38-mile stretch from 610 to FM 2920 last August without properly analyzing how noise from the project would affect their properties. In the filing, the plaintiffs say they are not opposed to the project, but are concerned that TxDOT’s environmental studies of its planned elevated roadways at the 610 and I-10 interchanges — some of which will reach as high as 100 ft. in the air — didn’t account for noise impacts on Memorial Park and the Houston Arboretum as well.


In a response to a comment on one of those studies, TxDOT argues that a noise barrier that might lessen the projected 76 decibels it figures will be shouting at a particular residence in Brookwoods Estates from the new roadway is not warranted because the neighborhood is not directly adjacent to the project — and because a barrier would block access to adjacent commercial land. The lawsuit complains: “TxDOT has expressed a priority, with no lawful basis, by commercial interests it claims do not want their establishments hidden [from] highway drivers on these elevated structures over the interests of residents below these elevated structures who will suffer the noise from the elevated structures.”

Video: TxDOT

13 Comment

  • I took a road trip through Belgium and Germany last fall, and one of the (many) striking things about the highway system that I noticed was the omnipresence of sound walls. They were EVERYWHERE — especially around residential communities. In fact, I hardly ever saw a single house unless I managed to peak a glimpse from a distance before the sound wall began. It was apparent that the health and well-being of residents was a top priority for the transportation departments in those two countries.
    Also, there were dedicated bikeways parallel to most of the highways – and people were using them! That was awesome too.

  • i suppose it’s reasonable to ask for a study, but i’m confused on exactly where they plan to take it from there if even that is granted. typical freeway noise pollution has no physical effects on buildings or health. perhaps they just want to see if violates noise ordinances so they can sue TXDOT and open it up to massive litigation by all other neighborhoods that are located near spaghetti bowls and/or are currently being built next to some. at what point are you just needlessly wasting taxpayers money on pointless litigation thoughy?

  • “typical freeway noise pollution has no physical effects on . . . . health”

    Not so fast:

    I think TxDOT resists sound barriers because they want the feeders to be free to convert to commercial use. Sue away.

  • I’m going to get my slide rule and calculate the the noise to pollution ratio.

    I almost bought a home in Woodside (610) but skipped it due to the noise though. I told my wife if you try you could pretend it’s the ocean.

    It actually sounds JUST like the Gulf does about 12 blocks back in Jamaica Beach in Galveston.

  • How about we spend the money on commuter rail instead?

  • How about we spend the money on commuter rail instead?

    Level crossings for commuter rail produce a greater level of noise (via the audible alerts and whistles) than regular freeway noise.

  • From Lost_In_Translation:
    I think the post refers to the belief/fact that commuter rail is better over all, rather than building a bigger highway. I wonder why 100 foot tall can’t they go down and under? that wont freeze when we get the Blizzard warnings in winter, and the peeps from Cooperfield can still get to work.

  • Houston is a car city, commuter rail is a huge waste of time and money for the foreseeable future. People that are FOR rail have never lived in a city where you HAVE to use it …. IT SUCKS!!! You pretty much have to cut all your meetings, dinners, entertainment outings in half because it’s such a b*tch to get around. In Houston, even in worst traffic it’s still quicker and more convenient.

  • Commensense: I use commuter rail everyday and love it. Is rail less flexible? Perhaps at times, but the stress-free commute more than make up for it.

    Houston clearly has not developed in a transit-friendly manner. That being said, many sprawling sunbelt cities have successfully adopted and adapted to commuter and light rail.

    Some people, such as yourself, will always remain close-minded and prefer the isolation of their truck and the agravation of stop and go traffic because it is “convenient”. Those that are open to new concepts (and yes, those who have moved from places with mass transit) will gravitate to transit. Many will eventually opt for housing choices in close proximity to transit stations. Over time, the city becomes less car-centric. This certainly doesn’t happen overnight but Houston didn’t become auto dependent overnight either.

    I may be (re)stating the obvious but the people of Houston can’t continue with the mindset that freeway widening is the sole answer to congestion relief. The sooner you folks can come to terms with that the sooner the City can shed its reputation as a car city.

  • Short of 59 from the spur to the beltway; this is the worst most dangerous stretch of freeway in town, and is dire need of a replacement — so long Northwest Mall. My old commute required me to take i10 to 610 cut across 75% of the freeway to get to 290’s exits and it was quite harrowing enough daily to spur me to taking the HOV lane and helping a buddy make his commute. It’s inevitable it’s needed, and sorry that area is nothing to write home about, or whine about noise.

  • A train is a new concept? You’ll be shocked once you see the latest inventions such as the horseless carriage and the gramophone!

    I love cars, so do most Americans… and yes we can keep widening freeways (for now), look how well I-10 works after widening. If a few hippies want to ride the rail that’s fine, but I certainly am not willing to pay for it and certainly would not vote for it.

  • Sorry, but opening it up won’t make the commute less “harrowing.” Driving on 290 was never like driving on I-10 and an expansion will just make it even worse (or better, depending on if you are predator or prey, haha). Time to find another ex post facto rationale for spending other people’s money.

  • road trip through Belgium and Germany last fall… …the omnipresence of sound walls. They were EVERYWHERE

    those are there to channel the Germans past the residential areas as they march into France, much in the same way the French streets are lined with trees so the Germans can march in the shade :)