Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Road Noise - what can be done for a more quiet neighborhood?

There are many people who believe that road noise is not significant enough and does not impact enough residents to be considered a real issue. It is actually an issue even to those who drive on the Woodlands parkway, but not many folks hear it. They are accustomed to the same noise on the nearby freeway. Perhaps that is because we simply grow accustomed to noise. Personally, I drive a truck, so I hear probably more noise in the truck than many other drivers in more quiet automobiles, but perhaps not. Try driving with the window down. If you have not done that, it is well worth the educational time. Another educational ride would be to go to Sawdust Road and travel east for a little ways. It won't take you long before you are driving on a different surface and you should notice the difference instantly! That is what I would like for you to experience, to see what comfort driving can be like. That section of Sawdust is a demonstration of what modern surfacing can be like here in Montgomery County. It is dramatically more quiet and in the rain, it is much more safe than a concrete surface. It has some negative facets, like its light reflectivity, but perhaps we should try this material here in The Woodlands on a stretch of the parkway.
There are some other options. One is to use concrete noise deflectors like are put on the bridge over Lake Woodlands. That size may be a wee short as a side barrier to the parkway, but it may help enough to get by. Another option is to build up some dirt to channel and baffle the noise into the air above the residential areas. This seems less practical and too costly, but it is an option none-the-less. More trees and vegetation along the sides of the road do offer some help to attenuate the light from automobiles, but it does little to attenuate noise. Still, it is an option that cannot be overlooked. Another option is to produce white noise along the road. To me, that does not sound like a very good option, but again, technology offers such solutions. Slowing down the traffic is also an option. Road noise is a function of speed and traffic volume. I bench-marked Gosling last year and plan to measure the new noise level soon. Two additional lanes have been opened and the speed limit increased from 35 to 45MPH.
After dealing with the vegetation and white noise solution, I am about ready to go after the surfacing solution. That would not solve the sounds of horns honking, the screaming of loud speakers, nor squelch the sound of a whining transmission, but it would help with tire-to-road noise. These days, radial tires are very noisy. The constant hum or whine of that contact with the road becomes a common sound in a community that was quiet 10 years ago..


bob rex said...

I like the transparent noise barriers that don't block the views and let the sunlight through. I have seen them in California and Ohio

Anonymous said...

something needs to be done to reduce the road noise from WDL Pkwy. I live 7 houses down from Woodlands Parkway backing up to drainage easement and you would swear that the parkway is running direcly behind my house. I can sit in my bedroom and hear trucks/cars and oh yes, loud motercycles anytime of the day or night. Go out of the patio and it's like you are standing in the parkway.
Planting pine trees and wax shrubs does not help. I've called the county about putting up more fence to reduce the noise and was told they couldn't do that because it would prevent them from accessing the easement to mow (sorry excuse. The noise is horrible and the value of every house along the parkway is going down quick (if you can sell your house). There is a house in my neighborhood that has been on the market almost 2 years - HUGE lot that backs up to the parkway. No one wants the house because of the noise.
The county should consider paving the parkway with sound reducing pavement.