Gaining influence in 2011
By Tom Kuennen, Contributing Editor
There are big changes on the way for a number of existing infrastructure technologies and practices, and they will significantly influence the highway and bridge communities in 2011.
In the coming year, new research, regulations or experience will impact operations and they may change the way you do business. They are:
Highway noise abatement practice
New diesel engines for off-road construction equipment
Raised pavement markers
Precast slab bridge repair, and
High friction pavements
New guidance on noise barriers — published this past July and effective July 13, 2011 — will guide road agencies in coming years in suppressing noise from existing, widened and new roadways.
It’s among a number of new themes profiled in this year-end edition of Road Science that will impact how the industry serves taxpayers next year and in future years.
Title 23: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Part 77: 23 CFR Part 772, Procedures for Abatement of Highway Traffic Noise and Construction Noise, provides the template that state and independent agencies must use for setting their own noise policies in order to receive federal grants.
In its June publication, Highway Traffic Noise: Analysis and Abatement Guidance, FHWA provides information that agencies can use voluntarily to meet the final rule on noise abatement. FHWA points out that today highway noise suppression requires a three-way approach:
• Control of land use adjacent to highways, executed at the local level. “Federal agencies encourage state and local governments to practice land-use planning and control near highways,” FHWA says. “The FHWA advocates that local governments use their regulatory authority to prohibit incompatible development adjacent to highways, or require planning, design and construction of developments that minimize highway traffic noise impacts.”
• Quieter vehicles. The Noise Control Act of 1972 authorizes the EPA to establish noise regulations to control major noise sources, including vehicles and construction equipment. It also requires EPA to issue noise emission standards for motor vehicles used in interstate commerce and requires the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to enforce these noise emission standards.
• Abatement of highway traffic noise for individual projects where feasible and reasonable, via noise barriers and other means. As mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, and the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1970, FHWA regulates highway traffic noise via 23 CFR 772, the final edition of which becomes effective this July.
During planning and design of a highway project, the regulation requires:
• identification of highway traffic noise impacts;
• examination of potential abatement measures;
• the incorporation of reasonable and feasible highway traffic noise abatement measures into the highway project;
• coordination with local officials to provide helpful information on compatible land-use planning and control; and
• identification and incorporation of necessary measures to abate construction noise.
The regulation contains highway traffic noise abatement criteria for different types of land uses and activities. “Highway traffic noise impacts occur when the predicted highway traffic noise levels approach or exceed the noise abatement criteria, or when the predicted highway traffic noise levels substantially exceed the existing highway traffic noise levels,” FHWA says.
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