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Wauwatosa School District asks state for sound barriers near schools

WAUWATOSA, Wis. (Oct. 22, 2015) -- Noise from the zoo interchange construction project is getting on the nerves of the Wauwatosa School District. The school board voted to ask the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) for a sound barrier near two of their schools. The school board says the traffic and especially the construction noise is very distracting to teachers and students at Whitman Middle School and Wauwatosa West High School.

"When you're just sitting trying to take a test, you can hear a lot of noise like pounding, or scraping. Usual construction noises," said Andrew Blomfeldt, a sophomore at Wauwatosa West.

They may be typical construction noises, but they're annoying for to Blomfeldt.

"Occasionally yes, if you're trying to concentrate and the noise keeps interrupting the focus," he said.

It is also why Superintendent Dr. Phil Ertl says the school board voted to ask WisDOT to install noise barriers, just like the concrete walls built along I-94 near West Allis.

"Concrete doesn't block all of it, but significant sound levels would be reduced," Dr. Ertl said. "We've gotten a lot of phone calls about our tennis courts that they can't hear what's going on when traffic is going through, so we're trying to speak up for our community."

A WisDOT official says they hear the district's concerns loud and clear, but their hands are tied, saying they can't spend federal dollars to build sound barriers for the schools and the state doesn't have the money. DOT officials say if the district wants the sound barriers, the district would have to pay for it. Wauwatosa West parent Mary Blomfeldt isn't happy with that.

"I'd say there's probably not a whole lot of money in the coffers of the schools to be able to do that either," Blomfeldt said. "I wish I had a solution to that."

WisDOT sent a letter to the school district saying they want to continue the dialogue that both sides have had thus far. No date has been set for this meeting, but again, transportation officials want to continue working with the district as both sides have been.

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