210 freeway

Big rigs roll up and down the Foothill (210) Freeway between Commonwealth Avenue and Angeles Crest Highway in La Canada Flintridge. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer / August 1, 2012)

Residents of the Meadow Grove neighborhood who are looking forward to construction of sound walls between their properties and the Foothill (210) Freeway got their first look at models of the decibel-dropping barriers at a meeting Monday night.

Design work and an environmental impact report are slated for completion in January, with construction expected to start in June 2013 and end a year later, project manager Terry Kelley, from management consulting firm Anderson Penna, said Monday.

Residents asked when the remaining 21 wall segments will be built along the 210's path through the city.

The answer is 2020 at the earliest, as La Cañada leaders do not plan to use city money to fund a project expected to cost $31 million.

Construction on the first two sound walls is being covered mostly by funds from the Measure R transportation tax approved by Los Angeles County voters four years ago.

Edward Hitti, the city's director of Public Works, said La Cañada was allocated $10.7 million in Measure R funds. But only $4.6 million is available now, with the remainder coming in 2020.

“It's very costly to design, and to design without funds secured is a risk the city can't take,” Hitti said. “So 2020 is the next date.”

Eric Spangler, an engineer with Parsons Corp., the firm designing the walls, said they will reduce traffic noise in the area by at least five decibels. Studies show highway noise in the area peaks at 81 decibels now.

Spangler also said Caltrans would conduct a field study on significant trees and other flora near the sound walls on Aug. 8 and would identify ways to mitigate any negative impacts they find.

Spangler assured residents that the 210 Freeway on- and off-ramps at Foothill Boulevard would remain open during construction.

La Cañada Design Commissioner Gordon Hoopes assisted in developing a design element of the walls, a three-peaked silhouette mimicking the San Gabriel Mountains.

“We went up to the top of the new Sport Chalet building and took a series of photos of mountains looking north,” Hoopes said. “The idea was to emulate the shape of those mountains, or at least the ridgelines.”

Bill Battison, who lives on Meadow Grove Lane, said he thinks the pedestrian bridge at Flintridge Oaks Drive reflects sound and deserves attention, but that the neighborhood is eager to see the sound walls go up.

“[We're] really grateful for this to happen. I just wanted to say design is important, but [sound] mitigation is the most important,” Pattison said. “We don't want to distract anybody from building this wall.”