A Method to Determine Reasonableness and Feasibility of Noise Abatement

Topics: Sound pressure, Land use planning, Sound Pages: 36 (13858 words) Published: June 10, 2013
A Method to Determine Reasonableness and Feasibility of Noise Abatement at Special Use Locations I. INTRODUCTION
Most states have policies in place that determine whether noise abatement is necessary and reasonable/feasible for Type I projects. These policies mirror federal guidance and apply to various land uses near the proposed project. Special land use facilities such as parks, churches and schools are included in the policy as far as when abatement may be necessary (i.e. the Federal Highway Administration Noise Abatement Criteria), but the determination of whether the abatement is reasonable and/or feasible is not adequately addressed. A survey of state Departments of Transportation (DOT) indicated that states are dealing with this need for reasonable/feasible determination for special land uses, but do not have formal policy in place to address the issue. Often, it may be feasible to provide abatement for these special land uses but is it reasonable to use limited funds for noise abatement? A systematic procedure is needed to eliminate arbitrary decisions. The purpose of this research was to develop a methodology for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) that would aid FDOT in the development of a procedure for special land use cases. The proposed procedure will provide guidance for those individuals preparing environmental documents allowing a decision process using a systematic approach to determine whether abatement is reasonable for special land uses. The development process of the Reasonableness Matrix for special land uses is explained and an overview of the finalized policy along with details concerning the development of the methodology is presented. I TECHNICAL SUMMARY

The first phase of methodology development was to assess the current state policies concerning special land use. This was accomplished by mailing a survey to noise representatives from each state DOT. Additional surveys were mailed to other groups and individuals to develop more insight of the problem. For non-responding state DOTs, follow up telephone calls were made requesting completion of the survey. The survey was designed to determine whether any formal policies concerning special land use existed. If there were none, the survey sought to ascertain what the respondents considered to be key items for a policy of this type. For example, question 7 of the survey asked the respondees to choose from a list of items those items they considered to be of importance when determining abatement feasibility and reasonableness. Question 8 asks the respondees to rank the items they chose in question 7. Question 8 was later used as a key indicator of which items should be included in the feasible/reasonable determination for special land uses. The survey also asked the respondees to provide some methodology for the items they chose as most important for this task. This information was invaluable in development of a matrix and methodology to assess the feasibility/reasonableness of a special land use site. The survey used for this research effort is included in Appendix A, while the list of responses is shown in Appendix B. Survey Response

The content of the Reasonableness Matrix required a research effort to determine if any state currently had a Special Land Use Reasonableness policy. The appendix contains a listing of responses to each survey question. While all responses are included in Appendix B, only the most important responses are discussed. Thirty five states responded to the survey along with three environmental professionals. Results from two survey questions are summarized in Table 1. Table 1. State Survey Responses

aThese policies were determined to be for residences
Table 1 indicates that about one-half of the states are dealing with the problem while the other one-half are having difficulties. Table 1 also shows there is a need for a formal noise abatement policy for special land uses. Four states reported they...
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