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County promises to fix 80th Avenue noise in spring

Friday, December 03, 2004
Daily Southtown
by Dan Lavoie

By spring, that annoying "thump, thump, thump" sound coming from vehicles traveling along 80th Avenue in Orland Park may be only a memory.

The head of Cook County's highway department said Thursday that his agency is aware of the loud noise made by vehicles on the rebuilt road and is trying to come up with a way to stifle it.

Homeowners along the one-mile stretch have complained to county and village officials about the noise created by vehicles going over the street's inch-wide grooves.

The grooves enable the concrete to safely expand and contract with weather conditions. They were installed when the street was reconstructed and widened to four lanes last summer.

County highway Supt. Wally Kos said the department is looking for an expandable sealant to apply to the expansion joints in the spring, once temperatures warm enough to allow the work.

"If we can fill something that will stick flush to the surface, we think it may avoid the thumping noise," he said. "We've got all winter to entertain these things and pick one or two to try."

Louis Ouwerkerk, a retired research engineer who lives at 80th Avenue and Sycamore Drive, was pleased to learn that Kos was working on the problem but remained skeptical.

"That sounds good," he said. "But we called the county and the politicians right away (when the noise started), and they still haven't done anything."

Kos conceded that the joints have caused a ruckus along the street. The joints are in line with county specifications but most county-owned roads are found in less populated areas, he said.

Kos was surprised that there were so many complaints by homeowners.

"Did it catch us off guard? Yes," he said. "Can we do anything about it before spring? No."

The county also is considering a new kind of expansion joint that would only require a lateral trench the width of a band-saw blade. Such smaller trenches should allow cars to pass quietly over, Kos said.

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