Road Management & Engineering Journal
Road Management & Engineering Journal
August 1999
TranSafety, Inc.
(360) 683-6276
Fax: (360) 335-6402

NDOT Initiates Pilot Soundwall Program

(This article is reproduced, with permission, from volume 7, issue 4 of the 1997 "Nevada Milepost," published by the Nevada T2 Center at the University of Nevada, Reno.)

Freeway noise is a nationwide problem of massive proportions. NDOT is very concerned about this problem and during the past year we have formulated a program to mitigate in a cost-effective manner the noise impact along the worst sections of Nevada's freeways.

This is a very expensive problem. In Nevada, the cost to construct the ultimate soundwall - 14 feet tall to block the noise from heavy truck stacks of 11.5 feet - along all freeways through urban areas would be more than $500 million. Clearly, such $6 million-dollar-a-mile projects are unaffordable in view of the demands for projects to provide congestion relief, safety improvements and highway maintenance in the nation's fastest growing state. To identify less expensive methods of mitigating noise, NDOT initiated an experimental soundwall retrofit program and is now in the process of adopting a long-range noise mitigation program for existing freeways.

The proposed Nevada Freeway Noise Mitigation Program will have an annual allocation of funds to address the problem over a period of years. Only cost-effective soundwalls in highway noise areas will be built. Money will be leveraged by asking local governments to match state funds since they share responsibility by virtue of their approval of freeway alignments and control of adjacent development. Local financial participation also is expected to keep demands reasonable. Local ordinances also would have to be passed to require developers to provide noise mitigation in new developments. This would stop the proliferation of the problem. The Noise Mitigation Program will give priority to areas of highest noise, highest residential density, and which were existing prior to the freeway construction.

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