Wednesday, April 16, 2014


From page A5 | February 27, 2013 | 7 Comments


Dear Placerville,

What happened? I have lived in El Dorado County all my life, and in Placerville for 25 years, but since the big Highway 50 project (debacle?) the noise coming from the highway has become unbearable, and I don’t live that close to it. All the highway noise has become alarmingly amplified.

The Harleys love to gun their engines under the new overpass and open up the throttle going through town, or they just sit at the stoplights revving it up, with zero consideration for the residents. What? They can’t see the houses dotted along the highway? Don’t hand me the “loud pipes saves lives” crap because we all know why they are loud. My dad had a Harley when we were kids and he would roll it down the hill, going to work in the morning, being considerate of other people, because he knew it was loud and would wake up people, but those days are long gone and consideration is a foreign policy. I now pray for rain and snow so at least a few days a year I can get some peace.

The big rigs coming down the hill are not being “easy on the Jake brake” either, as I’ve been woken up by them at 2 a.m., 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. consistently. I remember noisy cars, bikes and trucks used to get ticketed for excessive noise, as I received one in the 1970s (my stock AM radio be the offender in my 1967 Chrysler) for it being too loud. Laughable by today’s standards.

There is also a bump/hump/lump on the new highway, where the trucks loads transfer, creating a small explosion-type noise. Why hasn’t this been fixed at least? I read about other freeway and highway projects and they all receive noise and sound walls. Those lucky sons of guns. I also have read about towns that could not put in sound walls (and who cared about their citizens), that have restricted loud cars/trucks/bikes to certain hours, but I’m sure that would be just a pipe dream as we wouldn’t want to interfere with inconsiderate people’s rights.

There are old mines in town which also lends itself to transferring noise underground; this noise also has been amplified.

I have installed new triple paned windows, which have not been opened since the project, and some sound proofing drywall and still have to sleep with some sort of white noise — like TV, fans, whatever — and still no relief. I used to love to garden, or just be out in the yard, but now I just run out and do as little as possible as it is far from enjoyable. It is my understanding that prolonged exposure to such noise levels leads to hearing loss later in life. Oh goody. I have always had a philosophy that your rights end where my rights begin. What about my right for quiet enjoyment? Weren’t any acoustical studies done for that project?

I know some of you are going to ask, “Why don’t you just move?” I can’t. I’m still underwater, and stuck here. But as soon as I am able, I am out of here.


Letters to the Editor


Discussion | 7 comments

  • MikeFebruary 27, 2013 - 11:06 am

    Have they been installing Sound Walls/Concrete Barriers/Walls along the Freeway in the area? My family noticed the same thing 20+ years ago in the Bay Area (Walnut Creek) actually. They live about 2-3 miles away from the Freeway, but when they put in "Sound Walls" to minimize the sound for those living next to the Freeway, the sounds simply bounced off the walls (angling toward the hills), where it bounced around & could be heard at the house.. The sounds were 5-10x's louder after that. They planted bushes & plants as well, but it took a few years for them to grow & help absorb the sounds.

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  • Tom SimpsonFebruary 27, 2013 - 1:02 pm

    Mike, Yes, they have. I'm S/E of Bedford. Should have just tunnelled the highway, I just don't see any hope for the houses in the area. What a shame. Tom

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  • billzzFebruary 27, 2013 - 7:43 pm

    I did some operations research into this many years ago and it seems that the only thing that will stop freeway sound is a concrete block wall. Bushes and trees have no attenuation, but only divert sound around them. And as has been noted, the concrete walls can magnify sound many miles away. The citizens of Westlake Village (in southern California) had some lawsuits against freeway walls that were miles away from Westlake. The geography (of rising hills against the freeway - just like Placerville) compounds the problem. Consumer's Report had a good synopsis, but many years ago, so I can't give a cite.

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  • MikeFebruary 28, 2013 - 10:43 am

    @billzz: I'm not sure where you got your information from, but it's not entirely accurate.Sound (waves) are effected by a variety of physical & environmental elements: The lower the frequency, the further the sounds waves will travel (lower=more base). Altitude, Temperature, & Humidity effects the travel distance (sound travels furthest @ sea level, in warm/humid conditions). As for the "physical" aspects: Solid (Concrete) walls do not technically "stop" sound, they reflect it.... (the waves bounce off solid objects). The amplitude (volume) changes which each bounce/reflection. Trees/bushes do in fact absorb sound waves, more than concrete, but not as much as something much softer: cloth or dirt. Also, the since the leaves are random/scattered, the waves are deflected in different directions, which decreases the amplitude further. (Think of it as throwing a tennis ball against a brick wall, vs a bush, vs an empty tree in winter..... the ball goes different directions at different speed). When sound hits a freeway wall, it is reflected off of it, usually @ a slight angle, often upward, directing it the opposite direction & slightly upwards, causing it to travel over the opposite wall & up into nearby hills. I've been teaching Sound & Video Production @ the College level for 10+ years & working in the industry for 20+ (including music & radio).

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  • billzzFebruary 28, 2013 - 2:34 pm

    I agree with Mike and may have been too condensed in my writing. Concrete walls do not absorb, but reflect, and if the opposite direction is a hill, like around Placervile or Westlake Village, then the sound waves go up and are heard (as opposed to a flat situation where the sound waves still go up but are not heard. I think the attenuation of vegetation was limited by the area that it took. Also walls that are angled back are better, but more costly. Anyway, it seems to be a solvable situation, except for the amount of money that it takes. They should call Mike!

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  • Tom SimpsonFebruary 28, 2013 - 4:41 pm

    Hey guys, Thanks for the info. Mike, any suggestions? Would soundproof flooring help? Seems like lower frequencies like harleys, logging trucks, and after market exhausts are coming through floors. How do you feel about soundproof drywall? The new windows didn't help at all and they were andersons. Very expensive. -Tom

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  • Tom SimpsonFebruary 28, 2013 - 4:47 pm

    And you were right, my house does sit up high (good for views but bad for noise), yet, my next door neighbors on both sides, who sit lower, arn't as noisy.

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