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DOT, Durham School Compromise Over Highway Project

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DURHAM, N.C. — A compromise has been reached between the state Department of Transportation and a Durham school over a highway project that many people believe is dangerous and disruptive to students.

The DOT's Interstate 85 widening project took out a stand of tall trees at Club Boulevard Humanities Magnet School, so crews put in a berm. The berm -- 590 cubic yards of dirt and mulch -- is topped with trees and supposed to be a visual buffer between the highway and the playground. After a summer of protests, posturing and pleading, school officials said it is a good step, but they want more.

"A sound barrier, a noise wall of some sort that will not only take care of the noise, but will also give a sense of safety for the children, because that still is an issue," principal Carolyn Ridout said.

DOT officials said the berm varies in height from 5 to 6 feet. Trees were also transplanted from other project areas. Officials also plan to add an oak tree. The total cost of the project is estimated to be $15,000.

There is also educational value related to the project. A teacher videotaped and downloaded the construction, and now it is a class project.

"We have recess out there every day and they've watched the destruction and now the construction. They realize how close the vehicles are getting, and so our goal is to just keep track of it," teacher Roy Slayton said.

"One of the students at open house said to me, 'Ms. Ridout, they brought the trees back,'" Ridout said.

DOT officials said they are studying the cost of a noise wall near the elementary school.


Mark Roberts, Reporter
Richard Adkins, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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