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Who gets sound barriers?

In Ontario, noise barriers may be constructed to reduce noise levels to 55 decibels.

  • The beginning of morning rush hour, cars on the highway traveling to and from downtown

In Ontario, noise barriers may be constructed with new or expanded highways or retrofitted along existing ones. The goal is to reduce noise levels to 55 decibels, based on the estimated perception of the ear over a 24-hour period, explains Bob Nichols, senior spokesperson for Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation, which works with the environment ministry on such matters.

For the ministry to consider installing noise barriers on an existing highway, a noise-sensitive area must meet a number of criteria:

  • It must be next to a provincial expressway.
  • There must be ground-level outdoor leisure areas of residential properties for which development was approved under the Planning Act before Feb. 8, 1977.
  • The average daily noise levels must be more than 60 decibels.
  • The barrier must be able to be installed on the transportation ministry’s right-of-way and must be effective enough to provide a noise level reduction of a least 5 dB.Sites that meet all these criteria go on a priority list based on factors such as current noise levels, degree of noise reduction possible, cost and number of homes affected. —Linda McAvoy

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