Walled Off

I have been driving the section of Rt 29 through Columbia for years…decades, actually. And I’ve seen the changes over that time.  I remember driving it when I was in college, going up to Westminster to see my girlfriend Sari.  I remember driving it when I graduated from grad school, and took my first job in Columbia, thinking that I had traveled out into the boonies!  I’ve seen it change as the signalized at-grade intersections were eliminated to accommodate traffic flow (I have bad memories of the old left turn onto Owen Brown, where I had a battery problem and needed a push once day !)

Now I see that there are sound barriers going up and ….I realize it means that the view of Columbia, at least of the communities along the way, will be gone. Last year they gutted the wonderful stands of forsythia that had stood in the median south of Owen Brown, and most of the trees that were around the section at old South Entrance Road.  I hope that there will still be the view of the lake, but the other views will now be of pre-cast textured concrete walls.  No longer will the condos just north of the footbridge be visible.  Nor the old 1960’s era houses south of the footbridge.


I understand their aversion to the traffic noise.  Most assuredly, if I lived there I’d want sound barriers too. It’s just that it seems like there is something that is lost, something connective in the scenery that we pass.  What was connection, or at least noticing, the communities passed through and the history passed through, now becomes another developmental block of featureless nothing.  Where once we saw where others were, what else there was around us, and realized the differences, now we see nothing of the areas we go through.

There is a part of me that says if we HAVE to have these walls, couldn’t we at least green them up?  And I don’t mean wait for two decades for the ivy to eventually start to grow and get a foothold.  I mean intentionally plant not just at the base of the walls, but build into the wall repositories of dirt that would allow flowers or grasses or vines to grow.  Green walls are not new, nor are they even cutting edge.  Couldn’t we at least improve what we seem condemned to live with?

Sigh.  Time rolls on.




2 responses to this post.

  1. The really bad part about these walls….where do you plow the snow when you get 30 inches that falls from the sky. IMO these walls are the reason for the slow snow removal.


    • In this case, the walls are far enough off both 29 and the residential side that it won’t impact snow removal. But I have seen walls that were close enough to streets to impede it for sure


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