13 April 2008

A Field Guide to Sprawl: Noise Wall

The book "A Field Guide to Sprawl" by Dolores Hayden offers a vocabulary for fifty-one common building patterns.

Retaining wall on the 210 freeway by Jimmy Lin

"When highways penetrate neighborhoods, cars, trucks, and buses generate exhaust fumes and noise night and day. A noise wall (or sound wall) is a barrier, usually concrete, erected to mitigate noise pollution. Noise walls do not work very well because on a wide highway, more noise will go over a wall than bounce back from it." (page 72)

los angeles freeway by speedwaystar

These noise walls are now a common staple of cities. The walls are built to "protect" residential neighborhoods that have been cut in half or otherwise destroyed by the highway. These unfortunate leftover spaces provide an ample amount of undesirable housing.

Houston05 by Lucas.Wall

"Although the walls may block about 90% of the energy in the traffic noise, that 90% reduction in energy is heard as only about a 50% reduction in loudness…Thus, many find that the mitigation that is offered by noise walls is inadequate. Other residents regret the fact that noise walls block the view to the horizon and give the roadway a 'channelized' look, and sometimes business owners or even the police object to the blocking of lines of sight." (Mike O’Connor, Noise and Air Quality Consultant)

By Tony Dejak, AP

One option to help restore line of sight is the use of acrylic transparent walls as seen here in Cleveland. The most appropriate solution is not to build high-speed freeways through neighborhoods.

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