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Type I and Type II Noise Abatement Programs

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Environmental Services

The noise generated by traffic throughout the state is of concern to MassDOT - Highway Division. As a result, we participate in noise abatement under two programs, the Type I and Type II Noise abatement Programs, which are described in more detail below.

Type I Noise Abatement Program

A Type I Project is defined as a project that involves the construction of a noise barrier coincidental with the construction of a major highway on new location or with the physical alteration of an existing highway that significantly changes the horizontal or vertical alignment or increases the number of through traffic lanes.

MassDOT - Highway Division's Type I Noise Policy establishes consistent criteria and procedures for providing noise abatement for all Type I projects. These guidelines are consistent with FHWA guidance and policy on noise abatement. MassDOT - Highway Division's guidelines provide a procedure for determining if the construction of a noise barrier is Reasonable and Feasible. A brief description of Reasonable and Feasible is provided below. Careful adherence to this procedure is vital for the fair and equitable administration of MassDOT - Highway Division's Type I and Type II Noise Abatement Programs.

Type II Noise Abatement Program

The Type II Program involves the construction of "retrofit" noise barriers along Massachusetts' Interstate Highway System. Type II noise barrier projects are constructed to reduce noise levels at residential areas (and other sensitive land uses) adjacent to existing highways. Type II noise barriers are 'stand alone' projects, not constructed as mitigation for new or expanded highway construction. Unlike the Type I Noise Barrier Program, the Type II Noise Abatement Program is limited to noise impacts from Interstate Highways. Interstate highways are the loudest links of the highway system because they have high volume, high speed vehicles on multiple travel lanes. Massachusetts is one of only fifteen states with an FHWA approved Type II program.

In order to prioritize these projects, MassHighway, in conjunction with FHWA, completed a noise attenuation study of neighborhoods seriously impacted by the noise generated from highway traffic. At the conclusion of the study a list of 53 priority sites was established based primarily on noise levels. Type II Noise Barrier locations are also studied to determine if the construction of a noise barrier is Reasonable and Feasible (discussed below). A statewide key map and individual maps of the 53 Final Priority List locations can be found in the Noise Abatement Policy.

Reasonable and Feasible

If a location qualifies for additional study under either the Type I or the Type II Noise Abatement Program, that location is then examined for Reasonability and Feasibility:

  • Feasibility - The feasibility of constructing a noise barrier takes into account whether a substantial noise reduction can be achieved given the existing site conditions, such as roadway geometry and site topography. If a potential barrier is found to be feasible, then the reasonableness of a barrier is considered.
  • Reasonability - The determination of the reasonableness of a noise barrier is based on the barrier's cost effectiveness. MassHighway uses a mathematical formula called the Cost Effectiveness Index (CEI) to determine the cost effectiveness of each barrier being considered. The CEI is a useful analytical calculation to determine a barrier's reasonableness by comparing the total cost of a barrier divided by the total noise reduction achieved and the number of homes protected.
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