HJR 551: Joint Subcommittee Studying Reduction of Highway Noise Abatement
July 19, 2005
The Joint Subcommittee
Studying Reduction of Highway Noise Abatement Costs held its first meeting
July 19, 2005. Delegate Jeffrey Frederick of Woodbridge, who sponsored
the legislation, was elected Chairman and Delegate Mamye BaCote of Newport
News was elected Vice-Chairman. Other members are Delegates Daniel W.
Marshall, III, and Thomas D. Gear.
ON HIGHWAY NOISE ABATEMENT
The members were
briefed on policies, technologies, and funding associated with highway
noise abatement by Mr. Lloyd B. Arnold, Noise Abatement Manager at the
Virginia Department of Transportation.
Mr. Arnold began
by stating that the Federal Highway Administration creates noise abatement
policies which must be adhered to by states if the project is federally
funded. Virginia uses the same federal criteria, which was approved in
1989 by the Commonwealth Transportation Board and revised in 1997, in
assessing and constructing non-federally funded noise walls. Virginia's
regulations apply to new location projects that increase vehicle capacity.
The policy also allows for cost sharing on qualifying non federally-funded
projects, third party participation, and use of VDOT right-of-way.
A description was
given of the different types of noise abatement options including traffic
management, vegetative buffers, and berms. However, the most common noise
abatement measure in Virginia and nationally is the noise wall. The cost
of constructing one mile of noise wall is approximately $1.5 million.
Last year, $2.5 million was spent on noise abatement structures; the average
amount is $10 million per year. Virginia has approximately 120 linear
miles of noise walls, which ranks second nationally.
Mr. Arnold concluded
his presentation by outlining some of the challenges to reducing the costs
of noise abatement structures. These challenges include the federal guidelines
that must be met, manufacturer technology, varying material and labor
costs, topography, and the small number of manufacturers that sell absorptive
At the next meeting,
Mr. Arnold will discuss new technologies and outline the costs of acquiring
public right-of-way, maintenance of noise walls, and different types of
noise abatement materials. The next meeting date will be posted on the
General Assembly web page when available.
The Hon. Jeffrey
Alan Wambold, Stephanie
Bishop, DLS Staff