Traffic Noise Challenges

Posted on Wednesday, March 29th, 2017 by
In Transportation Engineering, tagged in Tags:

An important consideration in roadway design is traffic noise. It can be much more destructive than people think. In fact, it can adversely affect your physical health and the environment. Some effects include increased blood pressure, hearing loss and decreased overall mood.

In Kansas, a resident or property is considered affected by traffic noise, if it measures at 66 decibels (dB) or higher. To give you an idea of the magnitude of sound, 0 db is the threshold of hearing – the quietest sound a person with perfect hearing can detect. A level around 140 is the pain threshold. Prolonged exposure at that level will lead to hearing damage.

Highway traffic noise is caused by a combination of sounds produced by vehicle engines, exhaust, and tires. Surprisingly, adding lanes generally does not produce a noticeable increase in noise levels. The largest factor is changing the distance between what’s causing the noise and what is receiving it. However, defective mufflers or other faulty equipment do contribute to it, as do conditions, like steep inclines that cause heavy laboring of vehicle engines and weather. Other variables influence it by reducing or adding to it. These include factors like distance, terrain, and vegetation.

Noise barriers can help reduce impacts. According to the Kansas Department of Transportation, they:

  • Are most effective within 200 feet of a road, usually the first row of homes.
  • Can cut the loudness of traffic noise up to a half.
  • Do not block all traffic noise.
  • Must be tall and long with no openings.

Affinis co-workers have received training to perform these studies. Contact us to learn more.

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