Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2005

HJR 551: Joint Subcommittee Studying Reduction of Highway Noise Abatement Costs

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.


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 products.


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 Frederick

For information, contact:
Alan Wambold, Stephanie Bishop, DLS Staff


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