Field Evaluation of Reflected Noise from a Single Noise Barrier

State departments of transportation (DOTs) periodically receive complaints from residents about increases in traffic noise that residents believe are the result of noise reflected from a new noise barrier. With the limited analytical tools currently available, DOTs are unable to conclusively determine if complaints about reflected noise are the result of actual or perceived changes in noise characteristics. The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Traffic Noise Model currently does not model single barrier reflections, making it difficult for DOTs to determine when absorptive surface treatments on single noise barriers or other structures (e.g. retaining walls) could be beneficial. Where reflected noise may affect adjacent residents, a number of state DOTs are addressing these concerns by specifying sound-absorbing surface treatments on all noise barriers. However, installation of absorptive barrier surfaces may involve increased project construction costs as well as increased maintenance costs related to the durability of such treatments. Research is needed to enable state DOTs to understand how diverse site conditions may affect reflective noise. Diverse site conditions may include, but are not limited to, topography, roadway functional classification, barrier heights, number of traffic lanes, differing barrier materials, differing pavement surfaces, variable traffic mix scenarios (e.g., high vs. low truck percentages), and weather conditions. Research is also needed to produce insight and data to support validation of future noise analyses and methodologies involving reflected noise from single barriers. The objectives of this research are to (1) determine the spectral noise level characteristics of the overall noise in the presence of a single absorptive or reflective noise barrier for positions on the opposite side of a roadway through the collection of field measurements from diverse sites, and (2) summarize and analyze the implications of the research results for purposes of understanding the actual and perceived effects of reflected noise. Phase 1 of this project focused on reflective barrier surfaces and the conclusions are contained in NCHRP Web-Only Document 218. Phase 2 of this project focused on absorptive barrier surfaces.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $350000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 25-44

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 225
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Sundstrom, Lori

  • Performing Organizations:

    RSG, Incorporated

  • Principal Investigators:

    Kaliski, Kenneth

  • Start Date: 20130904
  • Expected Completion Date: 20180201
  • Actual Completion Date: 20180201
  • Source Data: RiP Project 38342

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01548179
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 25-44
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Dec 18 2014 1:00AM