Family fights highway off-ramp in their backyard

Ron Recinto

When the Dodge family bought a modest home in Clark County, Wash., a decade ago it was tucked away at the end of a quiet dead-end street.

Now a highway ramp is yards from the family's backyard.

"Come here. Stand in our yard," Melissa Dodge told the Columbian newspaper as cars whizzed off Highway 500 to a ramp just on the other side of a white fence in her backyard. "Imagine your children playing here."

The newspaper notes that the couple worry that a car or truck exiting the highway too quickly could crash through the guardrail and fence into their yard where their two children, 6-year-old Dylan and 19-month-old Lucas, play.

"She's in a tough spot, there's no doubt about it," said Abbi Russell, Washington State Department of Transportation spokesperson told the Columbian.

Russell said measurements of noise levels at the Dodge home are not loud enough to justify a sound-barrier wall to be build along the family's property. WSDOT built a sound-barrier wall at a neighboring mobile home park.

"Because of the high density, the mobile home park met the minimum thresholds for noise levels, so that justified a noise wall," said WSDOT region engineer Bart Gernhart.

That also irks the Dodges, because they had to move out during the construction of the ramp because the sound affected Dylan, who is autistic. The construction noise affected his attitude at home and at school.

So the WSDOT paid for the family to move to a rental house and covered the rent during the construction. However, that arrangement ends on Nov. 30.

The Dodges told the newspaper their home value has dropped $55,000. And now, with a highway ramp so close to their property, they said it would be difficult to find renters.

The Dodges want WSDOT to buy their property.

"We don't have the ability to purchase homes because of people's health situation," Gernhart told the Columbian. He suggested they try to sell their home.

Now, how do you make 'highway off-ramp' sound appealing in a listing?