Monday 17 October 2011

A new noise barrier

I've written previously about how noise barriers are used to make sure that residential areas are not spoiled by the noise which comes from motorways. The combination of quiet road surfaces, lower speed limits near residential areas and noise barriers is very effective.

However, noise isn't only a consideration for residential areas. Drenthe has many large natural areas of heath and forest and these also can be spoiled by noise.

Our local TV station covered the story of a new noise barrier being constructed along the side of the A28 motorway. It will be 5 km long, and protect the nature area known as the Dwingelderveld.

The red line shows the position of the new noise barrier. No-one lives close by the western edge of the motorway in this position, so this barrier is not to protect homes from the traffic noise.

It looks a little ugly at present, and has required chopping down some trees to make space for the noise barrier. However, this damage won't last for long. The section of the noise barrier by the forest will itself be masked by trees so that it is visually in keeping with the forest. The section by the slightly hilly heath area will be covered in the heath plant, and landscaped so that it also is nearly invisible.

There are many radio-telescopes in this area. This telescope was once the world's largest and this place is now the centre of the current world's largest radio telescope
The Dwingelderveld is one of ten Stiltegebieden, or "silent areas" in Drenthe. However, measurements taken in 2005 showed that 2/3rds of the time, sounds could be heard, and that the main cause was the A28 motorway. This is what led to the new barrier being planned and built, because otherwise the area could no longer be considered to be silent.

This radio-telescope is in the Dwingelderveld. I've been there a few times. Read newer blog posts about the Dwingelderveld.


Slow Factory said...

How to get the same reduction in dB with speed lowering?

Zmapper said...

Speed lowering, in the absence of an actual safety concern, was a complete disaster when tried here in the US, and is still a disaster when places try it.

In the wake of the oil embargo, Congress set the national speed limit at 55mph. Compliance rates were only about 15% in most places. Traffic deaths did NOT decrease, nor was a decrease likely because people kept driving as fast as they felt safe. The minute the President Clinton signed the repeal of the law, some western states had their DOT trucks on the road out changing the speed limit signs.

The act of speeding, by itself, is a victim-less crime by definition. The real danger only occurs when the driver crashes the car. In that case the driver should be prosecuted the same way someone who irresponsibly handles a gun or knife is prosecuted.

If there were a way to get around the due process clause of the US Constitution, I would be fully in favor of removing all speed limits from rural areas, unless there is a localized safety concern. Too many small towns make their money off of operating bogus "speed traps" with the only concern by the police department being money.

I think the earthen sound wall is money well spent, if people use the forest there. The government spending money on natural resources and recreation is one of the few things that most everyone agrees on. You don't see calls to privatize the National Parks all that often, do you? If there is one thing government runs efficiently (by their abysmal standards) it is the parks system. I fully support trying to minimize the effects on the wilderness of our highways and railways.