Traffic Noise Barrier Request from River Hill Community (MD 32)

Residents in our neighborhood are requesting a noise barrier and the following is a copy/paste answer from SHA. Our community organization sent similar requests to state and county too.

Two flaws in the answer:

1) The car speed will go up dramatically after West 32 is expanded. I believe the noise will go up too.  SHA seems to keep a blind eye on this critical factor.

2) SHA should consider noise barrier while building/expanding new highways at the start. After those constructions are done, the money is used up. It takes another several years/decades to build a noise barrier. However, at the same time, many people’s life have been negatively impacted for a long time. Just see they are building one barrier after another along Route 29. It really affect the traffic for years while building the noise barrier.

Dear xxx,

Thank you for your inquiry regarding traffic noise impacts to your community of River Hill, located near the interchange of Great Star Drive and MD 32 (Patuxent Freeway) in Columbia, Maryland.  More specifically, we would like to address your concerns regarding traffic noise impacts to your residence at 6381 Morning Time Lane in Howard County.

The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) State Highway Administration (SHA) considers the need for noise barriers in two circumstances, designated as Type I and Type II.  In Type I situations, barriers are considered when a new highway is being built or an existing highway is being expanded to add capacity.  On May 5, 1989, when the relocation/expansion of MD 32 was originally in planning, a document (FHWA-MD-EIS-72-07-FS) was approved, which included noise impact studies of the undeveloped areas along MD 32.  These areas would become the future residential community of River Hill.  This document concluded projected maximum traffic noise levels for the adjacent noise sensitive areas would not reach the 66-decibel threshold for residential development, and noise mitigation was not suggested.  New development after the “Date of Public Knowledge” was not included in studies for noise abatement as part of project planning.  Our research shows the majority of homes in the River Hill community, in particular those along Morning Time Lane, were built in the mid 1990’s.


In July 1996, soon after construction of MD 32 and at the request of area residents, SHA performed noise measurements at 22 different locations along MD 32 in the area of Great Star Drive.  Measurements were taken again in October 1996, concluding traffic noise at those locations did not reach 66 decibels and, verifying the noise analysis, noise levels were not high enough to warrant noise barrier construction.  The SHA did agree to provide additional landscaping and earthen berms to address concerns about the view shed.


Your correspondence also mentioned the planned project to widen MD 32, from MD 108 to Linden Church Road.  Noise analysis for this project did not include your community and ended just south of the MD 108 interchange.  Additional construction and widening of the roadway to the north of your community will not increase the overall capacity of MD 32 in your area and, therefore, Type I analysis was not required.  In addition, SHA has no plans at this time to further improve the capacity of MD 32 south of MD 108, which would warrant a Type I noise barrier analysis.


Communities may also be eligible for our Type II, or Retrofit Noise Barrier Program, when a highway already exists and is not being expanded.  The intent of the Type II Program is to address areas of noise impact to communities predating either the original construction of the highway, or the inclusion of environmental analyses in the highway development process. Our records indicate the majority of homes in the vicinity of the MD 32 and the Great Star Drive interchange were built in the mid 1990’s.  Your residence, in particular, was built in 1996.  Based on this information, your residence is not eligible for our Type II Noise Barrier Program.


Thank you again for your interest in this important matter.  If we may be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me at 410-545-8629, toll-free 1-888-228-5003, or via email at







Cornelius C. Barmer, P.E.

Assistant Division Chief

Office of Highway Development

State Highway Administration

Maryland Department of Transporation

707 N. Calvert Street

Mailstop C-102

Baltimore, MD 21202