Mass Transit Light Rail Noise
With cities growing exponentially and energy costs rising, the need for mass transit light rail has become more than apparent. Unfortunately, where it’s needed most is in congested communities and suburbs. Needless to say, the noise of light rail has become a serious issue. In virtually all cases the rail noise exceeds local noise ordinances and as such has pitted the need to move masses of people against the rights of residences and businesses close to the rails.
The public has become increasingly aware of the health effects of consistent noise pollution. The links between noise and stress are now very apparent to the medical field. Based on his own studies of health-related claims, Lewis Hagler, M.D. of San Francisco has determined that 4,000 people in California alone die prematurely each year due to noise pollution.
In many cases, noise has become a significant issue in expanding the desperately needed mass transit systems.
Fortunately there now seems to be a solution to much of the rail noise problems. The Acoustiblok Corporation in Tampa, Florida has been adapting their “All Weather Sound Panel,” originally developed for noise control on offshore oil rig platforms, to be used in not only blocking the rail noise, but also absorbing it.
The panels are unique in many respects. Unlike a wall that might be erected next to the rail which reflects the sound back to the side of the car, which in turn reflects on the side of the car over the wall and back into the community, the “All Weather Sound Panels” not only block the sound but absorb virtually all sound, allowing no reflections. If noise is not absorbed into material, it will continue to reflect off of all hard surfaces. The Acoustiblok Corporation claims the patent pending “All Weather Sound Panel” has the highest noise absorption classification possible (NRC 1.00) and is entirely environmentally sustainable even in load tests results withstanding 270-mile-per-hour winds.
The panels come in various sizes, from 4-foot x 8-foot x 12-foot and larger, and are approximately 2½ -inch thick all-welded aluminum. One of the other unique factors of the panel is the layer of a unique material known as Acoustiblok on the inside of the panel. This unique material does not block or stop sound but actually transforms the sound wave into inaudible friction energy as it vibrates from the sound. As such, the Acoustiblok material has, pound-for-pound, the identical sound reduction of lead, long used as the best sound-stopping material before an environmental impact was realized.
Several cities are already successfully using the All Weather Sound Panels, including Washington, DC which has had them in certain areas for more than four years. In Atlanta, Georgia MARTA – their light rail mass transit system – has recently approved the installation of the All Weather Sound Panel in their continuing effort to reduce their noise impact on the community and reduce the stress causing noise in their stations.
Lahnie Johnson, president of Acoustiblok states that “Noise is a serious detriment to stress in our life, not only in business productivity but also in our personal relationships with others. We should all take notice of how much noise we subject ourselves to. The “All Weather Sound Panel” we have developed is adaptable to literally thousands of noise issues.”