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Construction Noise Handbook

Table of Contents


The John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center ( Volpe Center ), Acoustics Facility, in support of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Natural and Human Environment, has developed the FHWA Highway Construction Noise Handbook (the Handbook).

The principal authors of the Handbook:

Harvey Knauer - Environmental Acoustics, Inc.

Soren Pedersen - Catseye Services

wish to thank the following people for providing their invaluable insight and comments:

Judith Rochat - Volpe Center

Clay Reherman - Volpe Center

Gregg Fleming - Volpe Center

Michael Lau - Volpe Center

Mark Ferroni - FHWA

Christopher Corbisier-FHWA

Erich Thalheimer - Parsons Brinkerhoff Quade & Douglas, Inc.

In addition, the information provided by the following agencies and individuals contributed to ensuring the accuracy and level of detail of the final document.

Agency/Company Location Contact
Arizona DOT Phoenix, AZ Fred Garcia
Bowlby & Associates, Inc. Franklin, TN Bill Bowlby
British Columbia Ministry of Transportation - Sea to Sky Corridor Improvement Project Vancouver, BC John Cavanagh
California Department of Transportation Sacramento, CA Rudy Hendriks (ret.), Dave Buehler, and Keith Jones
Cleveland Brothers Equipment Co., Inc. Harrisburg, PA Justin Yingling
Colorado DOT Denver, CO Robert Mero
Delaware River Port Authority Camden, NJ -
Durisol, Inc. Hamilton, ON Hans Rerup
Environmental Science Associates Tampa, FL Win Lindeman
Federal Highway Administration - Florida Division Tallahassee, FL Damaris Santiago (intern)
Florida DOT, District VI Miami, FL Marjorie Bixby, Catherine Owen
Florida DOT, Central Office Tallahassee, FL Mariano Berrios
Gannett Fleming, Inc. Harrisburg Bill Guy
Harris Miller Miller & Hanson Inc. Burlington, MA Chris Menge
Hatch, Mott MacDonald Mississauga, ON Tim Kelsall
Howard Needles Taaman and Bergendoff Milwaukee, WI John Jaeckel
Laborers' Health and Safety Fund of North America Washington, DC Scott Schneider
Montana DOT Helena, MN Cora Helm
Minnesota DOT Saint Paul, MN Melvin Roseen
New York DOT Albany, NY Bill McColl
Ohio DOT Columbus, OH Elvin Pinckney and Andy Eline
Ontario Guiderail Contractors Association Toronto, ON -
Ontario Ministry of Transportation Toronto, ON Chris Blaney
Parsons Corporation Pasadena, CA Areg Gharabegian
Powell Contracting Gormley, ON -
Quebec Ministry of Transportation Montreal, PQ Line Gamache
Rummel, Klepper & Kahl, LLP Baltimore, MD Kevin Hughes
Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project Arlington, VA Nick Nicholson ( Virginia DOT), Mike Baker ( Potomac Crossing Consultants)
Washington State DOT Seattle, WA WSDOT:Jim Laughlin, John Maas, Larry Magnoni, and Mia Waters; Washington State Ferries: John Petrie


The John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center Acoustics Facility (VCAF), in support of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Natural and Human Environment, has developed the Highway Construction Noise Handbook (the Handbook). The Handbook provides guidance to U.S. state transportation agencies in measuring, predicting, and mitigating highway construction noise and developing noise criteria. In order to help users predict construction noise, the Handbook includes the User's Guide for the FHWA Roadway Construction Noise Model (RCNM).

This Handbook, which is accompanied by a CD-ROM, reflects substantial improvements and changes in the way highway construction noise has been addressed since the 1977 publishing of the FHWA Special Report, Highway Construction Noise: Measurement, Prediction and Mitigation ref001. This updated Handbook, and the companion CD-ROM, address both acoustical and non-acoustical issues associated with highway construction noise. While it is understood that both similarities and differences exist between construction-related noise and construction-related vibration, the focus of the Handbook and CD-ROM is confined to noise-related issues.


2.1 Graphical representation of LAE.

3.1 Construction in residential area.

3.2 Construction in business district

3.3 Construction in vicinity of sporting event venue.

3.4 Construction in paradise.

4.1 Local noise ordinance.

4.2 Local noise restrictions.

5.1 Measuring existing noise levels.

5.2 Measuring ambient noise levels in the absence of construction activity.

5.3 Measurement of an individual piece of equipment

5.4 Measuring an individual construction operation.

5.5 Several construction operations affecting noise levels at nearby residences.

5.6 Undesignated routes may be used by construction-related traffic.

5.7 Routes may also be specifically designated for use by construction-related traffic.

5.8 Compressors, vacuums, and paint chip collection equipment associated with paint removal operation.

5.9 Bridge rehabilitation activities.

5.10 Pavement rehabilitation project.

5.11 Excluded events could include vehicles with amplified sound systems.

5.12 Influences of neighborhood pets on measurements.

5.13 Measurements at church.

5.14 Measurements in vicinity of schools.

5.15 Influence of train noise on measurement of background levels.

5.16 Wet roadways preclude valid noise measurements.

5.17 Measurement near a residence.

5.18 Measurement on a raised deck.

5.19 Property line noise measurement.

5.20 Noise measurement inside church sanctuary.

5.21 Noise measurement in courtyard outside church sanctuary.

5.22 High concentration of activity, a good candidate for measuring an entire operation.

5.23 Blasting operation.

5.24 Pile driving operation.

5.25 Rock excavation operation.

5.26 Steel beam transported adjacent to residences.

5.27 Dump truck on local roadway.

5.28 Concrete batch plant operation.

5.29 Stock pile operation in vicinity of residence.

5.30 Communities can be affected by traffic diverted by construction activities.

5.31 Stationary construction operation.

5.32 On-road construction vehicle.

5.33 Construction vehicle involved in cyclical operation.

5.34 Type I sound level meters.

5.35 Type II sound level meter.

5.36 Permanent automated wireless noise monitoring system.

7.1 Storage area in highway right-of-way.

7.2 Partial shielding of storage area in residential area.

7.3 Storage area in remote location.

7.4 Designated haul routes.

7.6 Existing retaining wall acting as noise barrier during construction.

7.7 Early construction of noise barriers.

7.8 Alternative to pile driving.

7.9 Diesel compressor with baffled housing.

7.10 Nighttime bridge construction.

7.11 Nighttime demolition operation.

7.12 In some instances, using a less noisy piece of equipment may be possible, as opposed to using more conventional and sometimes noisier equipment to perform the same operation.

7.13 Muffler system on recycling equipment.

7.14 Unshielded, non-baffled equipment.

7.15 Shielded compressor.

7.16 Examples of pile driver shielding and dampening.

7.17 Bubble curtain.

7.18 Bubble curtain air release ring.

7.19 Bubble curtain.

7.20 Straw bail enclosure for stationary equipment.

7.21 Blasting mats constructed with black tires.

7.22 Blasting mats being placed into position.

7.23 Older equipment may be as efficient as new, but may not meet noise emission requirements.

7.24 Newer paving equipment.

7.25 Regular service of equipment is an essential component to quietest operation possible.

7.26 Temporary shielding of stationary equipment.

7.27 Temporary barrier around stationary activity.

7.28 Existing noise barrier left in place until replacement noise barrier is constructed.

7.29 Equipment and storage area shielded by existing structures.

7.30 Use of existing structure and temporary plywood on chain link fence plus absorptive mats to shield recycling equipment.

7.31 Temporary barrier of plastic material.

7.32 Storage trailers modified to act as temporary noise barrier.

7.33 Early construction of permanent noise barriers.

7.34 Installation of a complete air handling system and window treatments at urban school solely to abate construction noise due to future conversion of arterial to depressed expressway.

7.35 Experimental sound system used to mask nighttime construction noise in the community.

8.1 Construction in the community.

8.2 Multiple land uses in a project area.

8.3 Public meeting presentation.

8.4 Field walks to project area with public.

8.5 Project construction information provided via updates on website.

8.6 Public plans display.

8.7 Signs in the neighborhood.

8.8 Other ways the public provides its input.

8.9 General and specific noise concerns.

B.1 Construction Site. B-3


3.1 Summary of Human Effects in Terms of Speech Communication, Community Reactions, Annoyance, and Attitude toward Area Associated with an Outdoor Day/Night Sound Level of 55 dB re 20 Micropascals.

3.2. Steady A-weighted Sound Levels that Allow Communication with 95 Percent Sentence Intelligibility over Various Distances Outdoors for Different Voice Levels.

6.1 Noise Models and Links.

7.1 Overview of mitigation options.

7.2 Example of Absolute and Relative Construction Noise Criteria Limits.

7.3 Example of Possible Construction Equipment Noise Emission Criteria Limits.

8.1 Summary of Estimated Construction Noise Levels Based on RCNM.

8.2 Coordination Throughout Project Development.

9.1 RCNM Default Noise Emission Reference Levels and Usage Factors.

9.2 Construction Equipment Noise Levels Based on Limited Data Samples - Cranes.

9.3 Construction Equipment Noise Levels Based on Limited Data Samples - Backhoes.

9.4 Construction Equipment Noise Levels Based on Limited Data Samples - Front Loaders.

9.5 Construction Equipment Noise Levels Based on Limited Data Samples - Dozers.

9.6 Construction Equipment Noise Levels Based on Limited Data Samples - Graders.

9.7 Construction Equipment Noise Levels Based on Limited Data Samples - Scrapers.

9.8 Noise Levels of Standard Compressors.

9.9 FTA Construction Equipment Noise Emission Levels.

9.10 Equipment Manufacturers and Websites.

10.1 Contacts, Policies, and Reference Material

B.1 Contractor equipment data. B-1

B.2 Equipment noise emission levels. B-2

B.3 Results from Manual Calculation Method. B-3

B.4 Receptor #1 data. B-4

B.5 Results from RCNM Run (Daytime) B-4



Updated: 7/5/2011
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