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Measurement of Highway-Related Noise

1. Introduction

The U.S. Department of Transportation, Research and Special Programs Administration, John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe Center), Acoustics Facility, in support of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Office of Environment and Planning, has developed the "Measurement of Highway-Related Noise." This document reflects substantial improvements and changes in noise measurement technologies that have evolved since the 1981 FHWA publication, Sound Procedures for Measuring Highway Noise.

Section 1 presents a general overview, as well as an historical perspective. Section 2 presents definitions of terminology used throughout the document. Section 3 presents field measurement instrumentation generalized to subsequent sections of the document. Section 4 describes the recommended practice for performing existing-noise measurements in the vicinity of a highway. Section 5 describes the recommended practice for the measurement of vehicle noise emissions for use with highway noise prediction models. Section 6 describes the procedures for the measurement of highway barrier insertion loss. Section 7 describes the procedures for the measurement of construction equipment noise for highway-related projects. Section 8 describes the procedures for the measurement of the noise reduction performance of buildings in the vicinity of a highway. Section 9 describes the measurement of highway-related occupational noise exposure. Section 10 details the recommended information for properly documenting final reports prepared in support of a highway project.

1.1 Background

Noise is an important environmental consideration for highway planners and designers. Transportation agencies measure different aspects of highway noise to determine or predict community impacts during urban planning. However, measurement instrumentation and procedures have varied from program to program and agency to agency.(1) Precise, uniform, field measurement practice allows for valid comparison of results from similar studies performed by a variety of transportation practitioners and researchers.

Sound Procedures for Measuring Highway Noise was written over a decade ago. Since then, substantial advancements have been made in the methodology and technology of noise measurement, barrier analysis and design, and noise measurement instrumentation. In addition, highway noise modeling software has recently improved. The Federal Highway Administration has replaced the STAndard Method In Noise Analysis (STAMINA, Version 2.0)(2) with the FHWA Traffic Noise Model (FHWA TNM®), Version 1.0.(3) The FHWA TNM uses a Microsoft Windows-based interface and includes a 1994/1995 Reference Energy Mean Emission Level (REMEL) data base,(4) as well as state-of-the-art acoustic algorithms. Consequently, the FHWA identified the need to develop and document a new highway-traffic noise measurement document which reflects these recent advancements.


1.2 Objective

The objective of this document is to provide a uniform, state-of-the-art reference for highway noise practitioners and researchers, which addresses measurement and analysis instrumentation, site selection, measurement procedures, and data reduction and analysis techniques. Each of these topics is addressed separately for each of the following areas of concern:


  1. Existing-noise in the vicinity of a highway (Section 4);
  2. Vehicle noise emissions for use with highway noise prediction models (Section 5);
  3. Highway barrier insertion loss (Section 6);
  4. Construction equipment noise for highway-related projects Section 7);
  5. Noise reduction due to buildings in the vicinity of a highway (Section 8); and
  6. Highway-related occupational noise exposure (Section 9).
Updated: 07/06/2011
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