Traffic Noise Analysis: Mitigating Noise During Transportation Planning

March 25, 2024 | Sean LaDieu

As public agencies, transportation authorities are entrusted with the critical mission of enhancing our transportation infrastructure to serve the broader community. This community is not just our client but our partner in progress. As urban environments continue to evolve, the challenge of traffic noise in transportation projects increasingly comes to the forefront of community concerns, necessitating a comprehensive approach to evaluating project impacts. Noise impacts pose multifaceted challenges for transportation agencies and the residents living in proximity to our projects. The balance between enhancing transportation efficiency and preserving the tranquility of urban and suburban environments is delicate, underlining the relevance of traffic noise issues to both residents and local governments.

The ongoing co-existence of transportation infrastructure and communities requires a collaborative, informed, and solution-oriented approach, reflecting our commitment to professional excellence, confidence in our approach, and dedication to achieving a balanced integration of transportation progress with community well-being.

regulating traffic noise

The Importance of Integrating Noise Solutions in Transportation Planning

The integration of noise abatement strategies at the initial stages of transportation project planning is paramount. By prioritizing these considerations, we can support projects in advancing transportation goals while protecting and enhancing the community’s quality of life. This proactive approach demonstrates HR Green’s commitment to developing solutions that are both effective and respectful of the communities we serve, reinforcing the value of collaboration between municipalities, transportation departments, and noise specialists.

Understanding Traffic Noise Analysis

Traffic noise, a common concern associated with many transportation projects, directly impacts people’s living environments. Questions like “What is a dBA?”, “How can you determine noise impacts on my property?”, and “Why do some properties receive noise walls while others do not?” often arise, highlighting the need for clear communication and understanding.

A traffic noise analysis involves a detailed study aimed at understanding and quantifying the existing and future traffic noise levels. It leverages both noise monitoring equipment and computer noise modeling to predict noise levels in decibels (dB) adjusted to the A-weighted scale (dBA) – a scale that considers the varying sensitivity of the human ear to different frequencies, making it particularly relevant for assessing potential disturbance.

Noise Policy and Guidance

Navigating the regulatory landscape of traffic noise requires a nuanced understanding of the guidelines set forth by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), specifically under 23 CFR Part 772. These guidelines serve as a foundation for assessing and mitigating noise impacts, yet the interpretation and implementation can vary significantly across State Highway Agencies (SHAs). This variability highlights the importance of knowledge and adaptability in managing compliance and effectiveness in noise analysis, tailoring our approach to meet both federal and state-specific requirements.

Train Noise Analyses and Broader Knowledge

HR Green’s knowledge extends beyond highway traffic noise to encompass the complexities of train noise analysis. Employing the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) assessment methodology, we tackle the unique challenges presented by rail transportation. This comprehensive perspective encourages all aspects of transportation noise to be considered, providing a holistic approach to noise mitigation that accounts for the diverse needs and concerns of communities.

Rail Noise Analysis

Traffic Noise Analyses by HR Green

At HR Green, we pride ourselves on our extensive knowledge and national presence in conducting traffic noise studies. Our noise specialists have over twenty-five years of experience. Our approach is rooted in a comprehensive understanding of the data and methodologies required to accurately assess noise impacts and develop sound mitigation strategies. Our commitment to clarity and accessibility in presenting our findings enables all stakeholders, regardless of their technical background, to engage with and understand the implications of our work. This dedication not only underscores our knowledge but also fosters a collaborative environment where informed decisions can be made.

Collaborative Solutions by HR Green

Our collaborations with state departments of transportation, such as those in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, South Dakota, and Texas, stand as a testament to our ability to navigate the complexities of traffic noise policy and mitigation. These partnerships have not only led to successful implementations of noise mitigation measures but also highlighted our capacity to adapt and innovate in response to the unique challenges of each project.

Over the last ten years, HR Green has conducted over 30 traffic noise studies. The scope of the traffic noise studies ranges from 12 miles of interstate with sensitive receptors on both sides to intersection projects with only a handful of sensitive receptors.

Our traffic noise experience has also provided opportunities to work with State Highway authorities to revise state noise policies and guidance documents. Working through these documents has provided HR Green specialists a unique opportunity to work through the application of regulations and policies in a way that is equitable for the agency while considering the public reception and understanding.

Address Traffic Noise Together

We invite municipalities and public transportation departments to collaborate with us in creating environments where progress and community well-being coexist. Together, we can achieve transportation improvements that truly serve the public interest. For further discussion or consultancy, please reach out to HR Green.

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