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Noise Barrier Retrofit Program FAQs

  1. What is the Noise Barrier Retrofit Program (NBRP)?
  2. How are potential locations under the program identified?
  3. What are the criteria for becoming a candidate project on the NBRP list?
  4. What is The City's Surface Transportation Noise Policy?
  5. What kind of noise is covered under this policy?
  6. Where is the noise impact measured?
  7. How much does the noise have to register for a location to be eligible for consideration of a noise barrier?
  8. Will a noise barrier eliminate traffic noise?
  9. What type of wall would be constructed?
  10. How much money is allocated to the NBRP?
  11. How many candidate projects do you have on the current Council approved priority list?
  12. How are candidate locations ranked?
  13. Why are some locations not qualified for a noise barrier?
  14. If I complete a Traffic Noise Investigation Request Form, how long will it take before a wall is constructed?
  15. What if I don't want a wall?
  16. I already have a fence that was constructed by the developer. Am I eligible for this program?
  17. My existing wooden property fence has gaps in it. How good is this for sound attenuation of traffic noise?

1. What is the Noise Barrier Retrofit Program (NBRP)?

The Program was established in June 1985. Under the Program, wall-like barriers are constructed in eligible locations to reduce noise levels.

2. How are potential locations under the program identified?

Locations are identified on a complaint basis. Property owners who believe they have a noise issue can obtain a Traffic Noise Investigation Request Form from The City. The request must be supported by two thirds or 67 per cent of the directly impacted property owners. All eligible complaints and enquiries are investigated to determine if they meet the criteria for the NBRP list.

3. What are the criteria for becoming a candidate project on the NBRP list?

To become a candidate for the NBRP list, the location must be in an existing residential area directly adjacent to an Arterial Street, Skeletal Road and some Urban Boulevards and Parkways as determined on a case-by-case basis as defined by The City of Calgary's Roadway Classification Map. It must also have been site tested to determine whether the existing noise level meets the criteria in The City's Surface Transportation Noise Policy. The Program has a limited budget that determines how many candidate projects can be completed in a year.

4. What is The City's Surface Transportation Noise Policy?

The Policy prescribes the conditions under which noise barriers are constructed, using criteria that concur with the Federal Highway Traffic Noise Model. Under the Policy, sound attenuation walls/noise barriers are constructed in three ways:

  • Built by a new subdivision developer at the time the development occurs if it has been determined to be needed.
  • Built when The City upgrades a roadway next to an existing residential development when it is deemed necessary.
  • Existing residential areas can petition The City under the Noise Barrier Retrofit Progam.

5. What kind of noise is covered under this policy?

The Policy provides for relief in cases where traffic noise is excessive. The Policy only deals with noise generated from typical traffic passing by a location. It does not deal with noise sources such as aircraft noise, engine retarder braking, or construction activities.

6. Where is the noise impact measured?

The noise impact is measured at the rear outdoor recreation area of a residential property. For the purposes of the NBRP, noise measurements are taken 1.5 metres above ground level and 3 metres from the dwelling towards the noise source.

7. How much does the noise have to register for a location to be eligible for consideration of a noise barrier?

If the roadway is a non-truck route, the traffic noise level must exceed 60 decibels, based on a 24-hour average. If the roadway is a truck route, the traffic noise level must exceed 65 decibels, based on a peak hour noise level.

8.  Will a noise barrier eliminate traffic noise?

A noise barrier will make a significant difference to the noise level. A noise barrier can achieve a 5 decibels noise level reduction when it is tall enough to break the line-of-site from the roadway to the receiver location. After it breaks the line-of-site, it can achieve 1.5d decibels of additional noise level reduction for each metre of barrier height.

9. What type of wall would be constructed?

Noise barrier retrofit projects are placed on tender and the type of wall is determined by the contractor building the wall.

10. How much money is allocated to the NBRP?

Council typically allocates $900,000 per year for construction under the Program. This is normally enough to construct concrete walls at one to two locations each year, depending on the height and length of wall needed at each location.

11. How many candidate projects do you have on the current Council approved priority list?

Eight projects were identified in an updated 2016 to 2018 NBRP priority list. The highest priority projects from this list will be constructed during 2016, and the remaining projects will be budgeted over the following three to four years.

12. How are candidate locations ranked?

Candidate locations are ranked according to the expected benefit/cost ratio of the project. Factors such as severity of the noise problem, the amount of noise reduction, the cost of the project and the number of residential units that will benefit, are taken into consideration.

13. Why are some locations not qualified for a noise barrier?

At some locations, it may not be feasible to construct a barrier due to physical restrictions, and/or the cost of construction. A noise barrier may not significantly reduce the noise level in all cases.

14. If I complete a Traffic Noise Investigation Request Form, how long will it take before a wall is constructed?

Updates of the construction program are normally completed every three years. Any requests that are found to be eligible under the Program, from field measurements taken in 2015 to 2017, will become candidate projects in that update. The highest construction priorities would commence in 2019.

15. What if I don't want a wall?

A noise barrier can only be constructed under the Program if two-thirds of the directly impacted property owners support the project. The initial complaint must be accompanied by a list of homeowners who support the request. Once on the NBRP list, further evaluations and prioritization take place. A final poll of the homeowners is taken before actual construction, and again, two-thirds support must be obtained before the construction can go ahead.

16. I already have a fence that was constructed by the developer. Am I eligible for this program?

Any property owner who thinks they have a noise problem can apply.

17. My existing wooden property fence has gaps in it. How good is this for sound attenuation of traffic noise?

The existing fence may just be a boundary or screen fence. A higher level of sound protection is achieved when fences have no gaps.

For further information call 311.

Related documents

*Project list has not been approved for construction. Construction will be contingent upon a survey of area residents and available funding.