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EHEI Award: Enhancing Environment for Human Activities

Type II Noise Barrier Program

Tennessee Department of Transportation

Photo of Tennessee Type II Noise Barrier

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) established a new Type II Noise Barrier Program. This program will facilitate the construction of "retrofit" noise walls in older neighborhoods impacted by traffic noise from existing highways.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires state departments of transportation to study noise impacts and consider noise abatement as part of all new or expanded Federally funded highway projects. Such required noise abatement projects are classified as Type I projects. In contrast, Type II projects are voluntary noise abatement projects. Type II projects are constructed as stand-alone projects where no other roadway improvements are planned or underway.

Prior to the passage of NEPA in 1969, there were no requirements for the consideration of noise abatement during the construction of the Interstate highway system. As a result, many communities were bisected by roadways, creating unmitigated noise impacts. TDOT's new Type II Noise Barrier Program gives greater consideration to constructing noise walls in impacted neighborhoods that were established before high volume roadways were built.

Neighborhoods eligible for consideration for Type II noise barriers must meet the following criteria:

  1. The neighborhood must pre-date the initial highway construction;
  2. The existing noise levels must exceed 66 decibels; and
  3. A noise barrier for the neighborhood must not have been previously determined to be unreasonable or unfeasible as a Type I project.

In order to proactively identify eligible communities, TDOT instituted a statewide review of the entire Interstate highway system. The statewide review identified 21 disadvantaged areas that met the Type II program requirements. TDOT then selected three neighborhoods to serve as pilot locations for the new program. The three areas are:

  1. Davidson County: Interstate 40 (south side), from Second Avenue South to Charles E. Davis Boulevard.
  2. Davidson County: Interstate 65 (west side), from Wedgewood Avenue to Melpark Drive.
  3. Shelby County: Interstate 55 (east side), from West Mallory Avenue to South Parkway.

TDOT's Type II Noise Barrier Program will benefit thousands of people across Tennessee, some of whom have suffered with intolerable noise levels for over 30 years. The new noise barriers will improve the quality of life in many of Tennessee's oldest neighborhoods.

For more information about TDOT's Type II Noise Barrier Program, contact Jim Ozment, Transportation Manager - Social and Cultural Resources Office, at

Updated: 06/27/2017
Updated: 6/27/2017
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