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Don't Build Bridgeport Noise Wall, Couple Tells IDOT

By Ed Komenda | May 26, 2016 6:33am
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DNAinfo/Ed Komenda

BRIDGEPORT — On a wall in Ron and Marybeth Szczesniak's kitchen, you'll find one of their most prized possessions:

A photograph of the Chicago skyline shot from the rooftop of their swank Bridgeport home.

It's a view many visitors and party guests envy, a luxury even more would pay big money to enjoy.

That's why the couple of more than four decades find it absurd that the Illinois Department of Transportation would want to build a 10-foot noise wall along the Stevenson Expressway, destroying scenic views of the Chicago skyline and the neighborhood's storied landmarks below.

"It's a waste of $400 million," said Marybeth Szczesniak, president of Windy City Silkscreening.

At a recent community meeting, IDOT project manager Steven Schilke revealed the state would like to complete the project in three years at a cost of $400 million.

"For what?" Ron Szczesniak said.

Since at least 2012, IDOT bosses have proposed adding a 25-mile lane to the Stevenson to alleviate growing traffic congestion and building sound walls to combat noise from the more than 200,000 cars and trucks expected to clog the Interstate 55 commute by 2040.

During a series of community meetings over the last two months at neighborhood parishes including St. Richard and St. Barbara, IDOT spokesmen offered jargon-laced descriptions of the state-proposed I-55 Managed Lane Project, which calls for walls near Halsted and Quinn streets.

The Szczesniaks have a simple message for IDOT: Keep your walls out of Bridgeport.

Earlier this month the couple received a survey in mail — a package including details about the voting process behind the proposed noise wall, a vote form and a stamped envelope. Along with other residents within 300 feet of the proposed wall, the Szczesniaks have until June 2 to vote.

But they made up their minds long ago, when rumblings of a noise wall first rippled through the neighborhood: "NO."

From the Szczesniaks' view, a noise wall would lower property values in the neighborhood, especially apartment complexes that once offered views of the city.

It's not just the rooftop view that would be destroyed, he said. The view of Bridgeport's landmarks from the Stevenson would also disappear.

"This is the view to take. You see this car stopped there?" Szczesniak said, pointing to a gaggle of commuters on the Stevenson. "All of them look to the right: White Sox Park, Palmisano Park, the churches, the steeples. Bridgeport. You see it. It's beautiful ... Now all you're going to see is a fr----- wall."

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