Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority

Facts about Draft Dulles Toll Road Highway Noise Policy

In 2008, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (Airports Authority) assumed the operation of the Dulles Toll Road. The Airports Authority would like to evaluate the need for additional highway sound walls or the need for improvements to existing sound walls on the Dulles Toll Road.

The Dulles Toll Road today has 7.5 miles of highway sound walls.

The Commonwealth of Virginia is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the Dulles Connector Road. As a result, this Draft Highway Noise Policy does not apply to properties along the Connector Road. The Virginia Department of Transportation will continue to be responsible for any sound walls in that area.

The Airports Authority has developed a Draft Dulles Toll Road Highway Noise Policy for public review and comment. This policy will establish the criteria the Airports Authority will use to determine the need for future noise abatement measures along the Dulles Toll Road.

The Airports Authority is accepting public comment on the draft policy from June 1- June 30. Once this comment period is complete, the policy will go to the Airports Authority Board of Directors for review and approval.

In developing this draft policy for the Dulles Toll Road, the Airports Authority has considered, among other sources, the federal guidelines for traffic noise evaluation and abatement: U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 23; Federal Highway Administration, Part 772 - “Procedures for Abatement of Highway Traffic Noise and Construction”; (23 CFR 772). 
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/probresp.htm

Measuring Highway Traffic Noise

Traffic noise is a combination of the noises produced by the engine, exhaust, and tires of vehicles.  Traffic noise levels depend on: traffic volume; vehicle speed; vehicle category mix; duration and frequency of traffic distance between vehicles and receptors; intervening barriers; ambient environment and terrain. Generally, heavier traffic volumes, higher speeds, and greater numbers of trucks increase the level of traffic noise.

This summer, the Airports Authority will begin measuring and modeling noise levels along the Dulles Toll Road that will be used in applying the policy, when one is approved by the Board of Directors, and determining the areas that may be eligible for new sound walls.

Setting Criteria for Sound Walls

Under the draft policy, in order for a new sound wall to be built, the following factors will be considered:

1. The construction of the sound wall will have an overall noise reduction of at least five decibels and will bring the noise level into compliance with the noise level criteria in the policy.
2. The sound wall can be safely constructed and maintained considering such constraints as utilities, topography, drainage, maintenance of traffic, and other site-specific constraints.
3. The total cost of the traffic sound wall (or other noise abatement measure) is equal to or less than $40,000 for each property that will benefit from the measure.
4. The affected property owners generally approve of the proposed traffic noise abatement measure.
5. Right-of-way that may be required for the construction or permanent location of a noise abatement measure is donated to the Authority.

Ranking

The Airports Authority will consider the results of noise studies, the cost effectiveness of the noise abatement measures and the sound levels in the noise study areas when determining locations for future sound walls. 

Funding

The funds for the construction of sound walls will come from the capital budget for the Dulles Toll Road and will be part of the Airports Authority annual capital budget process.

Existing Sound Walls

The Airports Authority will repair or replace existing sound walls based on an evaluation of an existing sound wall’s continued effectiveness to achieve desired noise abatement standards or based on an engineering determination that a wall has experienced certain structural damage. The Airports Authority will repair or replace existing sound walls in kind.

Noise Issues Related to the Dulles Corridor   

This draft policy is proposed to address highway noise generated by the Dulles Toll Road.   It does not address noise associated with the construction of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project. Noise concerns relating to the rail project construction should be addressed to the rail project staff who may be reached by calling the 24-Hour Emergency Construction Hotline at 877-585-6789.

In the planning stages of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, the potential noise impacts of the operation of the rail in the corridor were identified in an Environmental Impact Statement completed by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Noise mitigation measures identified in that environmental statement have been adopted by the rail project and will be implemented as part of the rail construction.

Next Steps

The Airports Authority is holding a public workshop on the draft policy on Thursday, June 10th, at Langston Hughes Middle School in Reston, Virginia from 5:30 PM- 8:30 PM.

At that public workshop, the Airports Authority staff will be available to discuss the draft policy, provide additional information, and take comments. In addition, the comment period will be open from June 1- June 30.

To see the Dulles Toll Road Highway Noise Policy and documents from the public workshop or to comment, please visit: http://www.mwaa.com/tollroad/2941.htm

Public comment on the draft policy will be accepted from June 1- June 30. Once this comment period is complete, the policy will go to the Airports Authority Board of Directors for review and final approval.