On a recent trip to Chicago, my wife and I were thankful for all the new traffic lanes recently completed. I can remember when the trip back home to my folks took an extra couple of hours if I got stuck in all the traffic. But thankfully, with the new highway renovations, we’ve actually had some easy trips with no more traffic backups. Of course, our easy traveling must come at a cost. High density population areas are often encroached upon by the infrastructure needed to support them. In our case, the highways got a lot bigger with more lanes but that meant that they were even closer to the houses and neighborhoods that we drove through.
One of things that we couldn’t help but notice is all of the highway noise wall barriers that have been completed as part of the highway improvements. The barriers are installed in an effort to reduce the amount of traffic noise that the residents are exposed to as a result of the highways encroaching even closer to their homes.
We did notice the feeling of a bit of tunnel vision as we cruised down the road with miles and miles of the bland concrete barriers and billboards. It is a simple trade off though for the improvements that the homeowners see as a result of the barriers. It is possible for highway noise barriers to reduce the road traffic noise levels by up to 10 decibels at the closest residences; a 10 dBA reduction is commonly perceived as “half as loud.”
Careful noise and traffic studies help us to determine the type and size of the barrier to be put in place. At Acoustics By Design, we have the expertise and software available to design these sound wall barriers and to predict the impact that will result from the installation of such barriers. The bottom line is that these noise walls, when designed and positioned right, do attenuate the sound level for residents who live nearby.