Noise Barrier Retrofit Program FAQs
The Noise Barrier Retrofit Program (NBRP) was established in June 1985. Under the Program, wall-like barriers are built to reduce noise levels.
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.
There is currently no funding allocated for retrofit construction. All the locations exceeding The City's Design Noise Level criteria will remain in the list and will be reprioritized once funding becomes available.
To become a candidate for the NBRP list, the location must be in an existing residential area directly adjacent to a Skeletal Road, Arterial Street or Parkways 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.
The Policy prescribes the conditions under which noise barriers are constructed adjacent to residential properties using guidelines established by the federal government. 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 Program.
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.
For truck routes, noise levels are measured at a height of 1.5m above the ground for standard lots (3m from the house) or 1.0m above the center of the main floor deck for walk-out style lots (after 1996).
For non-truck routes, noise levels are measured at a height of 1.5m above the ground (3m from the house).
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.
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 1.5 decibels of additional noise level reduction for each metre of barrier height.
Noise barrier retrofit projects are placed on tender and the type of wall is determined by the contractor building the wall.
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. At this time NBRP is not funded.
As of 2018 there are nine projects on the priority list. This list will continue to be updated. Refer to the current project list attached below.
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.
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.
If I complete a Traffic Noise Investigation Request Form, how long will it take before a wall is constructed?
Updates of the NBRP list are normally completed every three years. Any requests that are found to be eligible under the Program will become candidate projects. The highest priority locations would commence construction when funding is available.
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.
Any property owner who thinks they have a noise problem can apply.
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.