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Traffic Noise

Ambient traffic sounds are everywhere, whether it is the daily hum of a busy street so loud that it limits normal conversation, or the roar of a muffler-less vehicle piercing through a residential street in the small hours of the morning. For some, the volume and type of traffic close to their homes cause diminished home enjoyment.

The impact of traffic noise on the listener can be reduced through the use of measures to block noise using berms and barriers. These may consist of built up earth mounds, or concrete walls or fences, with or without landscaping. The traffic sound attenuation program was created to help minimize the noise impact from high volume roadways to the outdoor spaces in surrounding residential areas. Only existing residential sites with a rear or side lot adjacent to high traffic roadways are considered for a sound attenuation barrier. Apartment-style residential, commercial or industrial land uses do not qualify for sound attenuation measures.

Monitoring, testing, and evaluation are important tools in the management of traffic noise problems. Once the evaluation is complete, those areas that are deemed to have sustained noise levels above acceptable levels are scheduled for a sound attenuation project.

Traffic noise sound attenuation is included in the construction of all new residential areas.  Land developers build these measures and pay all costs for their construction. It is also provided for all new transportation infrastructure projects and is included in those project costs. As an example, sound attenuation was provided along all residential neighborhoods adjacent to the Circle Drive South project.

Rating Sound

For existing neighborhoods along existing roads, the City of Saskatoon has a program to provide sound attenuation between noisy roads and residential neighborhoods. A priority rating system is used, which compares potential locations for sound attenuation measures and takes into consideration the following factors:

1. Noise Levels: The day-night average sound level data obtained through measurements is the primary factor considered in the warrant. Data is collected at locations based on previous traffic noise studies and in response to requests from residents. The maximum number of points is 50 (given to those locations at or above 65 dB(A), while 10 points is given to locations measuring below 58 dB(A).

2. Proximity and classification of adjacent roadway: Points are allocated to locations based on proximity to major traffic corridors, taking into account the classification and speed limit of the roadway. For example, the maximum allowable points are given to locations abutting a freeway or expressway. Maximum number of points is 35.

3. Proximity to an existing sound wall: Additional points are given to locations considered to be a continuation of a previous capital project (i.e. interchange) where a sound attenuation wall was installed. Maximum number of points is 5.

4. Development: Additional points are provided to locations within existing neighbourhoods that will serve as a primary access to future development, with a differentiation between residential development and industrial or commercial development. Maximum number of points is 10.

Common Noise Decibels

In the Home At Work General
50-75 washing machine 65-95 power lawn mower 70 freeway traffic
55-70 dishwasher 90 tractor 85 noisy restaurant
60-85 vacuum cleaner 105 snow blower 90 truck, shouted conversation
60-95 hair dryer 110 leafblower 95-110 motorcycle
80 doorbell 120 ambulance siren 100 snowmobile
80 ringing telephone 140 airplane taking off 110 car horn
110 baby crying   125 auto stereo (factory installed)
    130 stock car races
    157 balloon pop
    170 shotgun

 

Planned Sound Attenuation Projects

The Traffic Noise Sound Attenuation (TNSA) Program was created to help maintain the quality of the outdoor amenity space in residential areas located adjacent to high speed roadways.

TNSA policy framework and a TNSA monitoring program with a monitoring list of potential future sound wall projects was approved by City Council in November 2016.  Locations adjacent to arterial roads or freeways/expressways with average daily traffic levels greater than 20,000 vehicles per day are included.

Potential locations will be added to the monitoring list when traffic volumes over 20,000 vehicles per day are measured.  Noise measurements will be completed every three years beginning in 2019.

TNSA Monitoring List 

2016 Sound Attenuation Project

Come & Go Public Information Session - December 10, 2015 

Proposed Sound Wall Specifications & Locations

During City Council's budget debate in 2013, City Council directed the Administration to borrow $15.45 million in 2016 to construct sound walls at all locations where sound level readings were 65dba or higher. Those locations are as follows:

LOCATION FROM ADJACENT NEIGHBOURHOOD
College Drive Central Avenue to McKercher Drive College Park
McKercher Drive Boychuk Drive to College Drive College Park East
College Drive McKercher Drive to Western Cresecnt College Park East
Boychuk Drive Heritage Crescent to Taylor Street  Wildwood
Circle Drive East Highway 16 to Taylor Street Lakeview
Circle Drive East Highway 16 to Taylor Street Eastview
Circle Drive West 29th Street to 31st Street Mount Royal
Circle Drive West Milton Street to Avenue W Massey Place
22nd Street Haviland Crescent to Michener Crescent Pacific Heights

Sound attenuation will be provided at the following locations as part of the Attridge Drive Intersection Improvement Project:

LOCATION FROM ADJACENT NEIGHBOURHOOD
Central Avenue Attridge Drive to Konihowski Road Silverspring/Forest Grove
Circle Drive East Attridge Interchange Forest Grove

Transparent Sound Attenuation Walls

The use of transparent sound attenuation walls will be integrated into the 2016 Sound Attenuation Project at the following four pedestrian walkway facilities:

  1. Tache Crescent adjacent to 22nd Street, near the at-grade pedestrian crosswalk at the intersection of 22nd Street and Hart Road.

  2. Dickey Crescent adjacent to 22nd Street, near the grade separated pedestrian overpass connecting the Pacific Heights neighbourhood to the Shaw Centre, Tommy Douglas Collegiate and Bethlehem Catholic High School.

  3. Carleton Drive adjacent to College Drive, near the grade separated pedestrian overpass connecting the College Park neighbourhood over College Drive at Central Avenue.

  4. Marlborough Crescent adjacent to Circle Drive West, near the pedestrian underpass connecting the Massey Place and Mount Royal neighbourhoods.

In order to achieve sound reduction and ensure a safe environment for users of pedestrian facilities, Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) reviews recommended the use of transparent sound attenuation walls. Transparent sound attenuation walls will increase the level of safety for users by increasing visibility, reducing the opportunity for crime to occur, and increasing user’s perception of safety.

Concrete sound attenuation wall segments will not be constructed adjacent to the four pedestrian crossing locations for approximately one house lot width on either side of the pedestrian facility, plus any short segment of stand-alone sound attenuation wall will be transparent. Contingent upon approval from the internal Specifications and Product Review Committee, the transparent sound wall segments will be installed in late 2016 or early 2017.

FAQs

What is the 2016 Sound Attenuation Project?
This project consists of the construction of sound attenuation walls at nine locations throughout the city as part of the City of Saskatoon’s Traffic Noise Sound Attenuation (TNSA) program.  The TNSA program was created to help maintain the quality of the outdoor amenity space in residential areas located adjacent to high speed roadways.  During City Council’s budget debate in 2013, City Council directed the Administration to borrow $15.45 million in 2016 to construct sound attenuation walls at nine specific locations.

What are sound attenuation walls?
Sound attenuation walls are solid obstructions built between roadways and residential areas to block noise.  These walls do not block all noise; they only reduce the overall noise level. 

When will the sound attenuation walls be constructed?
Construction of all nine sound attenuation walls will begin in June 2016.

Who qualifies for a sound attenuation wall?
Only existing residential sites with a rear or side lot adjacent to high traffic roadways are considered for a sound attenuation wall.  Apartment style residential, commercial, or industrial land uses do not qualify for sound attenuation measures.

What are the design criteria for the wall itself?

An independent consultant has been engaged to model the existing and projected traffic noise levels.  The sound level projections were based on future traffic projections at a population of 400,000, or existing volumes, whichever was higher.  In order to observe a noticeable change in decibel levels, which is 3 dBA, the traffic volumes on the adjacent roadway need to double.

The height of the walls is determined using design criteria of a minimum of 1.83 meters (6 feet).  If the sound level was projected to remain above 65 dBA with a 1.83 meter wall, the height of the wall was increased incrementally until a sound level below 65 dBA was achieved.

Functional design is underway to confirm the final placement and extents of the sound attenuation walls.  Detailed design of the wall foundations will follow.  Any issues regarding the constructability of a specific location will be brought to City Council’s attention prior to tendering the project, if required.

How loud is too loud?

Experts agree that continued exposure to noise above 85 dBA will cause hearing loss.  To know if a sound is loud enough to damage your ears, it is important to know both the loudness level (dBA) and the length of exposure to the sound.  In general, the louder the noise, the less time required before hearing loss will occur.  According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (1998), the maximum exposure time at 85 dBA is 8 hours.  At 100 dBA, the maximum exposure time is one minute and 29 seconds.

What are the next steps?

Once the placement and height of the nine sound attenuation walls are finalized, detailed design and tendering for the nine projects will proceed in January 2016.

Loud Vehicles - The Noise Bylaw Amendment

What is The Noise Bylaw Amendment, 2014?

Members of Saskatoon City Council have received numerous complaints about excessively loud vehicles. As a result, an amendment was made to the city’s noise bylaw in May 2014 to address these concerns. The purpose of the amendment is to regulate unreasonably loud vehicle noise that disturbs the peace and comfort of fellow city residents and visitors.

Do these amendments apply just to motorcycles?

No, the first amendment states that no person shall operate any vehicle in a manner that produces “any unreasonable or excessive noise.” The bylaw applies to cars, trucks, motorcycles or any other vehicle that is too noisy.

What types of excessive noise are regulated?

The bylaw already has provisions to deal with loud vehicle stereos, the new amendment prohibits excessive vehicle noises such as those caused by a modified exhaust system, intentional engine revving and driving in a manner that disturbs the public.

How loud is too loud?

Your location, the type of noise, and its duration are considerations. But if the sounds coming from your vehicle are loud enough to bother those around you, they’re too loud.

Aren’t there rules already to handle noisy vehicles?

Yes, there are provincial laws that regulate the manner of driving and prohibit such things as stunting, there are also provincial laws that require an operator to have a functional muffler on a vehicle. The amendments to The Noise Bylaw simply add another tool to the enforcement tool kit for police officers.

When do these amendments take effect?

The general provision for all motor vehicles is in force now, and the Saskatoon Police Service is already issuing tickets to those operators of cars and trucks that produce too much noise.

What are the rules for motorcycles?

In addition to the general rule, there are decibel limits imposed for motorcycles. The bylaw says any motorcycle that emits any sound exceeding 92 dB(A) at idle or 96dB(A) at any speed greater than idle is too loud and a violation.

Why do motorcycles have these different rules?

Right now, a simple roadside test that measures exhaust sound is possible for motorcycles, but there is no similar roadside test for other vehicles like cars and trucks. The standards of 92 and 96 dB(A) are based on what manufacturing standards must be met for a motorcycle to be made or imported into Canada.

What does that mean for motorcycle riders?

If you drive a non-modified stock motorcycle (any manufacturer) that’s in good repair, your bike will be fine. If your bike has been enhanced in ways that increase its exhaust volume or if it’s in need of maintenance, you may exceed the standard. The Saskatoon Police Service is offering a testing program, and more information about free testing can be found on the Saskatoon Police Service website

How will these new rules for motorcycles be enforced?

The Saskatoon Police Service is in charge of enforcement, and has developed a program for the gradual implementation of the decibel limit changes. Free motorcycle testing clinics are scheduled May 30, 2015 at the same time an grace period will be in place. Public awareness and education campaigns will be ongoing.

How are charges dealt with?

These charges will be done by bylaw tickets. The first offence carries a fine of $100 if the ticket is paid within 14 days. The second offence carries a fine of not less than $200. A third offence carries a fine of not less than $400.

What if I want to dispute a ticket?

All these charges will be dealt with in our Bylaw Court, in the same way as parking tickets or animal control matters, and there will an opportunity to go to a trial, if one wishes, and present whatever defense that one feels is appropriate.

Can I report a complaint about excessive vehicle noise?

Yes. As with any noise disturbance, you may contact the Saskatoon Police Service at 306-975-8300, and the police will investigate. Your complaint may or may not lead to the issuing of a ticket as a variety of factors are considered. For more information about enforcement, contact the Saskatoon Police.

Where can I find more information?

You can view the complete City Noise Bylaw in the bylaws section here on the website or click to go directly to the specific bylaw. For questions about ticket fines and enforcement, you can visit the Saskatoon Police Service website.