Community Perception of Noise Barriers

Report No: 80-R14

Published in 1979

About the report:

The report presents the findings of a study of timber, concrete, and metal barriers installed along certain of the Commonwealth's interstate and primary roads. A total of 297 home interviews were conducted in five communities to determine citizens' perception of the effectiveness of these barriers. The interviews were conducted over a 13-week period during the summer of 1978. More than two-thirds of the respondents had lived in their current dwellings before the noise barrier was built; 11% of them before the highway facility was built. About 92% of the respondents were homeowners, 60% were between the ages of 31 and 50 and the average age of the homes surveyed was 12 years. For all five sites, 78% of the respondents were satisfied with the barriers and about half felt the barriers were reducing the noise significantly. In general satisfaction they ranked the concrete barrier first and a barrier with offset metal panels next. Aesthetically, a wood panel type barrier was rated the most desirable. In urban locations the wooden barriers appeared to be slightly more desirable than the metal one. Barriers along non-limited access roads were not seen to be as effective as those located along limited access roads. In addition to attenuating noise, barriers were said to provide security from would be-intruders, uniformity in the appearance of the neighborhood, privacy, safety and a reduction in road tar and air pollution. About a third of the respondents said that the barriers had a positive effect on the value of their property. A significant number of respondents indicated that vegetation was a viable alternative to noise barriers.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


  • Michael A. Perfater

Last updated: January 24, 2024

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