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Construction Noise Handbook

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Background

The U.S. Department of Transportation, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, 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). This document reflects substantial improvements and changes in addressing highway construction noise that have evolved since the publication in 1977 of the FHWA Special Report Highway Construction Noise: Measurement, Prediction and Mitigationref001 (1977 Handbook). The Handbook and its 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.

In 1977, the FHWA published the above-referenced guidance document plus a supplementary document, 1977 Symposium on Highway Construction Noiseref002, to aid State Highway Agencies in addressing the problem of highway construction noise. Over the last three decades, there have been substantial advancements in the methodology and technology of identifying impact and mitigating the effects of construction-related noise. Increased community, contractor, and government interest has fuelled the push to provide more effective, less expensive, and more environmentally friendly mitigation techniques. This increased interest has also fuelled a push to improve noise measurement and modeling technologies that aid State transportation agencies in determining the level of impact and the most suitable mitigation techniques.

Construction noise related to transportation projects is typically addressed in the project's noise analysis report and in the project environmental document. Most projects will not require modeling or any form of analysis associated with construction-related noise. In many cases, construction noise may be adequately addressed through a narrative discussion. Some projects may require application of a simplified manual calculation technique. For projects that require compliance with local ordinances, more detailed analysis techniques may be called for. Use of the most sophisticated and complex modeling techniques are typically required for the most complex projects such as the Big Dig ref009 in Boston, MA, or the TREXref103 in Denver, CO. Such projects may require in-depth analysis including modeling, operation scheduling, continuous noise monitoring, and enforcement. Regardless of the type of project, it is important that any abatement techniques developed to address construction noise consider cost-effectiveness. Also essential is that construction noise criteria are attainable, easily understood, and well communicated to contractors and the public.

A recently developed analysis tool is the FHWA Roadway Construction Noise Model (RCNM)ref083. The RCNM is a new, state-of-the-art computer programref084 that enables the prediction of construction noise levels for a variety of construction operations based on a compilation of empirical data and the application of acoustical propagation formulas. The program enables the calculation of construction noise levels in more detail than manual methods while avoiding the need to collect extensive amounts of project-specific input data.

1.2 Objectives

The objectives of this document and companion CD-ROM are to identify factors that may be considered related to construction noise and provide information associated with reference sources related to the following issues and factors:

Every effort has been made to address and/or reference some common designs, materials, and techniques. However, it is impossible to encompass the proliferation of new concepts, equipment, construction techniques, and materials entering the market on a daily basis. Therefore, the specific discussions within this Handbook are not to be considered all-inclusive, and are not intended to limit the creativeness of the designer, manufacturer, and construction contractor. It is important that any new theory, design, material, or technique not addressed in this Handbook be evaluated with the general fundamentals of safety, functionality, and cost-effectiveness in mind.

1.3 Handbook and CD-ROM Use

The intent of this Handbook is not to recommend techniques to be used in identifying construction noise impacts or to recommend related mitigation techniques for specific projects or types of projects. Rather, it should be used in conjunction with the companion CD-ROM as a type of reference document containing a compendium of factors and issues that may be appropriate to consider in dealing with construction noise. While the Handbook itself provides a summary of the range of issues and factors associated with construction noise, the CD-ROM contains significantly more data associated with relative sources of information intended for use by those charged with addressing the objectives listed above.

While the focus of the discussion herein relates to the effects of construction noise associated with humans, references are also provided to material associated with the effects of construction noise on animals.

1.4 Handbook and CD-ROM Organization

Both the Handbook and the CD-ROM are divided into the following chapters:

Updated: 7/5/2011
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