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Noise Barrier Acceptance Criteria: Analysis

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The purpose of this report is to examine the feasibility and reasonableness factors in the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) noise regulation in 23 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 772 as implemented in the individual state highway agency (SHA) noise policies individually and in combination with each other to identify optimized combinations of values. The report specifically addresses the requirements of Tasks 3.1 through 3.5 of the FHWA Task Order No. DTFH61-D-00028-T12-002, 23 CFR 772 Streamlining, Analysis, and Outreach.

The contents of this report are meant for research purposes only and shall not be considered FHWA policy, guidance and/or requirements.


This report is comprised of the following four chapters:


This report was prepared for and reviewed by FHWA and the project's Technical Working Group (TWG), first as a draft report and then as an interim report. It addresses comments received from FHWA and the TWG during the review process. The intended audience includes analysts and policy-makers within FHWA and SHAs who specialize in highway traffic noise and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementation policies, processes and procedures.


This is the first printing of this report.


This report is the first of two Final Task 3 Deliverable Documents.


This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of the information contained in this document. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation.

The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers' names appear in this report only because they are considered essential to the objective of the document.


Quality Assurance Statement

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides high-quality information to serve Government, industry, and the public in a manner that promotes public understanding. Standards and policies are used to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of its information. FHWA periodically reviews quality issues and adjusts its programs and processes to ensure continuous quality improvement.


Technical Report Documentation Page

1. Report No.


2. Government Accession No. 3 Recipient's Catalog No.
4. Title and Subtitle

Noise Barrier Acceptance Criteria: Analysis

5. Report Date

September 2013

6. Performing Organization Code
7. Author(s)

William Bowlby, PhD, PE, and Geoffrey Pratt, PE, Bowlby & Associates, Inc.; Kenneth Kaliski, PE, RSG Inc.

8. Performing Organization Report No.


9. Performing Organization Name and Address

RSG Inc., White River Junction VT
Bowlby & Associates, Inc., Franklin TN
Environmental Acoustics, Lemoyne PA

10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)

11. Contract or Grant No.


12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
Office of Planning, Environment and Realty
Washington, DC 20590

13. Type of Report and Period Covered


14. Sponsoring Agency Code


15. Supplementary Notes


16. Abstract

This report examines the feasibility and reasonableness factors in the FHWA noise regulation (23 CFR 772) as implemented in the individual state highway agency noise policies. The studied factors include:

  • Feasibility: noise reduction and quantity of impacted receptors achieving that reduction
  • Reasonableness: benefited noise reduction; noise reduction design goal and quantity of benefited receptors achieving that goal; cost effectiveness (allowable cost or barrier area per benefited receptor)

The analysis examines how changes in the permissible ranges for each factor - while the others factors remain static - affect noise abatement decisions. Also examined is how changes to multiple factors in combination affect decisions. The goal was to identify combinations of factors that are likely to result in inclusion or exclusion of noise abatement. The range in potential decisions based on the combinations permitted under the regulation is examined to provide an aid for future policy guidance and planning. A sensitivity analysis on the factors identifies outcomes of possible combinations of factors. Actual highway projects are also used to identify the effects on the likelihood of abatement. Reported separately is the development of tools to evaluate the effects of policy changes on abatement feasibility and reasonableness.

17. Key Words

FHWA noise regulation, 23 CFR 772, noise barrier, noise abatement, feasibility, reasonableness

18. Distribution Statement

No restrictions. This document is available to the public through the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA 22161.

19. Security Classification
(of this report)


20. Security Classification
(of this page)


21. No. of Pages


22. Price

Form DOT F 1700.7 (8-72)

Reproduction of completed pages authorized



% 1R,%1Percentage of first-row (impacted or benefited) receptors (see P1)
% ALL,%APercentage of all (impacted or benefited) receptors (see PA)
AHTDArkansas Highway and Transportation Department
APBRArea per benefited receptor
APBR calcCalculated APBR
Ben,BRBenefited receptor
CECost effectiveness
CFRCode of Federal Regulations
CPBRCost per benefited receptor
DelDOTDelaware Department of Transportation
DHVDesign hour volume
DOTDepartment of Transportation
FHWAFederal Highway Administration
FHWA TNMFHWA Traffic Noise Model Version 2.5
Leq, Leq(h)Equivalent sound level in dB(A), one-hour Leq
MaxSF/BRMaximum amount (square footage) per benefited receptor
MDSHAMaryland State Highway Administration
MDOTMichigan Department of Transportation
NACNoise Abatement Criteria
NEPANational Environmental Policy Act
NCDOTNorth Carolina Department of Transportation
NRNoise reduction
NRDGNoise reduction design goal
NYSDOTNew York State Department of Transportation
PennDOTPennsylvania Department of Transportation
P1Percentage of first-row (impacted or benefited) receptors (see % 1R)
PAPercentage of all (impacted or benefited) receptors (see % ALL)
ReasReasonable by...
RFPRequest for Proposal
SHAState highway agency
SFSquare foot (feet)
TDOTTennessee Department of Transportation
TNMFHWA Traffic Noise Model Version 2.5
TWGTechnical Working Group
VDOTVirginia Department of Transportation
WSDOTWashington State Department of Transportation


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Updated: 7/8/2014
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