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ARE BENEFITS WORTH THE BLIGHT?

If one were to try to think of a way to disfigure a city, I can't imagine anything more effective than to go around erecting high walls alongside the freeways. In an area (I-215) where there once was a delightful view over the city, we now have a blank gray wall that before too many years will be completely decorated with graffiti. One writer has remarked on the hazards the walls provide when snow can't be removed but is merely piled alongside to then melt, refreeze and provide unexpected skid pads. I can't wait for a good lawsuit.

Too bad the people who lived alongside the "El" in Chicago didn't know enough to complain about the noise to the right people. Think how much money the contractors could have made there. At $100 per lineal foot, we are all paying millions to have the noise bounced away from the houses that adjoin the freeway to the ones a bit farther away. Or in some cases, focused and made even worse.In my view if I buy a house next to a freeway - present or planned, I must be obliged to accept the noise that comes with it. The price of the lot surely is adjusted down (and up?) because of proximity to a freeway. The only people who have a right to complain are those already in place before a freeway is planned and built next to them. For them I would urge patience. Noise cancellation techniques are rapidly advancing, and there may someday be a practical alternative. Even at twice the cost of ugly walls, it would be a bargain.

Someday, they'll be torn down, just as the Embarcadero Freeway that marred San Francisco was torn down. And for the same reasons: ugly, ugly, ugly. Is the supposed benefit for a few worth the visual blight inflicted on the many?

Jerry H. Zenger

Salt Lake City