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Noise Barrier Acceptance Criteria: Evaluation Tools


September 2013, Updated November 2015

Also available as Adobe PDF (1.5MB)

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The purpose of this report is to document the development of two tools to evaluate the effects of policy changes on the feasibility and reasonableness of noise abatement for the factors described in the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) noise regulation in Title 23 CFR Part 772 as implemented in the individual state highway agency (SHA) noise policies. These tools allow a user to evaluate different combinations of factors to determine the effects of policy changes. The report specifically addresses the requirements of Tasks 3.6 through 3.8 of the FHWA Task Order No. DTFH61-D-00028-T12-002, 23 CFR 772 Streamlining, Analysis, and Outreach and Task 3 of the FHWA Task Order No. DTFH61-D-00028-0005, 23 CFR 772 Streamlining, Analysis, and Outreach, Phase II.

Content Summary

This report is comprised of the following four chapters:

Interested Audience

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 state highway agencies (SHAs) who specialize in highway traffic noise and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementation policies, processes, and procedures.

Previous Printings

This is the second printing of this report and includes a new Section 2.1.3.

Publication Status

The initial report was the second of two Final Task 3 Deliverable Documents under Task Order No. DTFH61-D-00028-T12-002. This updated report is the second of two Final Task 3 Deliverable Documents under Task Order No. DTFH61-D-00028-0005.


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.

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: Evaluation Tools

5. Report Date

September 2013, updated August 2015

6. Performing Organization Code
7. Author(s)

William Bowlby, PhD, PE, Rennie Williamson 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.

DTFH61-11-D-00028-T12-002 and DTFH61-11-D-00028-0005

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 describes two tools for evaluating the effects on noise abatement decisions caused by changes to the feasibility and reasonableness criteria in state highway agency (SHA) noise policies developed under the FHWA noise regulation in 23 CFR 772. The Noise Abatement Feasibility and Reasonableness Analysis Tool (NAFRAT) uses results from noise barrier designs created with the FHWA Traffic Noise Model Version 2.5. Results are built-in for two designs for each of four actual highway projects or may be user-entered. The analyst may test abatement decisions for one or more designs for a single project against one or more sets of policy criteria or multiple projects designs against one or more sets of criteria, including the criterion on the consideration of viewpoints of property owners and residents. The Noise Abatement Reasonableness Sensitivity Analysis Tool (NARSAT) is based on series of 108 cases derived from hypothetical scenarios involving: one, two, and three rows of receptors; three different receptor densities; two different setbacks from the barrier to the first row of receptors; and six different barrier heights. The tools were utilized for research documented in a companion report.

17. Key Words

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

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

List of Abbreviations and Acronyms

% 1R, %1 Percentage of first-row (impacted or benefited) receptors (see P1)
% ALL, %A Percentage of all (impacted or benefited) receptors (see PA)
% Percentage
# Number (integer)
# 1R Number of first-row
# All Number of all (impacted or benefited) receptors
#NA Not Applicable (due to missing criteria)
#/% Number or Percent
$ Cost (in dollars)
1R First-row
APBR Area per benefited receptor
APBR calc Calculated APBR
Ben, BR Benefited receptor
CE Cost effectiveness
CFR Code of Federal Regulations
CPBR Cost per benefited receptor
Crit Criterion
dB Decibel
dB(A), dBA Decibel unit for A-weighted sound level
DU Dwelling unit
Feas Feasibility
FHWA Federal Highway Administration
FHWA TNM FHWA Traffic Noise Model Version 2.5
Leq Equivalent sound level in dB(A)
N Number of receptors
NAFRAT Noise Abatement Feasibility and Reasonableness Analysis Tool
NARSAT Noise Abatement Reasonableness Sensitivity Analysis Tool
NEPA National Environmental Policy Act
NR Noise reduction
NRDG Noise reduction design goal
P1 Percentage of first-row (impacted or benefited) receptors (see % 1R)
PA Percentage of all (impacted or benefited) receptors (see % ALL)
Reas Reasonable by
Reas? Overall reasonableness decision
SHA State highway agency
SF Square foot (feet)
TNM FHWA Traffic Noise Model Version 2.5
TWG Technical Working Group
UC Unit cost

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Updated: 6/28/2017
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