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Champion sound wall approved

Project won’t begin until 2025

CHAMPION –After almost two years of gathering enough signatures and completing noise tests, the Ohio Department of Transportation this week has informed township trustees it has given approval for construction of a sound wall barrier off the state Routes 5 / 82 bypass.

Trustee Chairman Doug Emerine said ODOT has approved funding for the project for the 2025-26 year for a sound barrier, with the project likely to go out for bid in 2025 and be done by 2026.

“It is still some years away, but it is good to know it will happen.” Emerine said.

Emerine and fellow trustees Brian Bugos and Bill Templeton had spent several weekends earlier this year going door-to-door in residential neighborhoods near the heavily traveled highway to get more than 50 percent of residents’ signatures on a petition to submit to ODOT.

Emerine said last year residents who live in the neighborhood directly south of the bypass had voiced concerns to officials about the constant loud noise of vehicles, trucks and motorcycles.

Emerine said residents want to spend time in their backyards for cookouts and other events and shouldn’t have to listen to engine brakes and other loud noises from the constant traffic flow.

Residents Tamie Hoostal and Holli Capron have attended several trustee meetings starting in 2018, expressing concerns about the noise.

“It’s just all day long. You can hear the semi-trucks and the motorcycles. I brought it up at one of the township meetings, and the trustees then were in agreement with us,” Hoostal has said.

Residents who signed the petition live in more than 70 homes on Stewart Street, Relim Drive, Brookside Drive and Mahoning Place. Emerine said the petition had nearly 70 signatures, which is more than the 51 percent of needed signatures of people living in the area.

After enough signatures were obtained, officials submitted the petition and application to ODOT in Akron in March.

Representatives of ODOT set up sound monitoring equipment to record sound decibel levels coming from traffic on the Routes 5 / 82 bypass.

Emerine said while most of the residents he spoke with favored a sound wall, a few were not for the project.

Bugos and Emerine had said at trustee meetings that while they walked neighborhoods in February and March, they could hear the loud noise coming from the nearby highway.

“I heard the noise when I was there. I am not sure if, like the airplanes in Vienna coming and going from the air base, people get accustomed to the noise or not,” Emerine had said.

ODOT informed trustees homes must be built before the highway was put in to qualify for the barrier, and the noise in the homes reached a sound level of more than 67 decibels. Emerine has said no additional taxpayer dollars would be used for the barrier.

ODOT officials have told trustees the process will take four to five years.

Justin Chesnic, public information officer with ODOT District 4, had informed officials earlier this year that the homes indeed were built before the highway and that the decibel level is above 67 decibels — noting a sound wall would reduce it below that level.

Officials said of the 90 homes tested in the neighborhood, about 60 would benefit from the addition of a sound barrier.

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