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Ridiculous or refreshing? Colorful sound barrier goes up on I-94

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Sound-absorbing barrier on I-94
A sound-absorbing barrier being constructed on the south side of Interstate 94 near the Prospect Park neighborhood of Minneapolis, Dec. 9, 2014.
Jim Bickal / MPR News

Updated 1:30 p.m. | Posted 7:40 a.m.

Drivers motoring along Interstate 94 near Highway 280 in Minneapolis are calling a new sound-improvement project everything from "refreshing" to "hideous."

Workers have covered the existing sound wall with a thick layer of mineral wool. But it's what's on top of that — multicolored panels of sheet metal — that has some drivers reacting. The panels cost about $760,000 and resemble rows of rail cars.

Bobbie Dahlke, Minnesota Department of Transportation spokeswoman, told MPR News' "Morning Edition" that the agency worked closely with Prospect Park neighbors in Minneapolis to come up with the design.

Dahlke says it's the first time the special panels have gone up in the state. 

"We're getting both comments, and plenty of them," she said. "Some people say they love it, it's refreshing, and it's nice to see something different. And then we're getting people that drive by and say they absolutely hate it, and they're using words like 'ridiculous' and 'hideous.' "