Diamond grinding to reduce highway noise

One Lake County community is paying out of its own pocket to reduce noise on I-294 by diamond grinding the road:

The village [of Green Oak] will pay nearly $338,000 for a process called diamond grinding to hopefully reduce the racket along that stretch of road.

“The idea here was to grind it and produce a quieter pavement and pavement noise in the lower frequency range so it wasn’t so obnoxious,” Village Engineer Bill Rickert said.

That sound also described as “singing” by Rickert spurred several complaints after the tollway widening was completed about three years ago, and sent village leaders on a quest for a solution…

In the simplest terms, the concrete road surface had been tined or grooved perpendicular to the road surface, he said. The diamond grinding changed the grooves to run parallel, evoking “more of a corduroy-type feel,” and theoretically producing lower noise levels in frequencies less noticeable to the human ear.

While diamond grinding emerged as the village’s proposed solution, it isn’t used by the tollway as a noise reducing technique.

It would be interesting to see how this solution compares with building sound barriers – is diamond grinding cheaper or more effective? If this is an effective technique and people agree about this, why doesn’t the Tollway use it?

I have had some more interest in this lately because our neighborhood borders a busy arterial road that is being expanded from 2 to 4 lanes. Because of this, sound barriers have been installed. I don’t think they look too bad with a sort of faux beige brick look. Granted, I don’t live in a house that backs up to these walls and I assume there is a price (in housing value) to pay for backing up to these walls. Going further, at night we can faintly hear the nearby highway that is 1.5 miles away – it is a sort of background noise. But having grown up close to a railroad track which produced more sporadic but louder noise, can’t you simply get used to these things? Perhaps the difference here is that people in these neighborhoods near the Tri-State haven’t had this level of noise until the highway was expanded.

Shopping malls and noise devices to discourage loitering

A shopping mall in Washington D.C. has installed a noise device, the Mosquito, to discourage loitering:

The owners of the Gallery Place commercial strip have installed an anti-loitering noise device — one to discourage any loiterers, not just teens. Gallery Place has further urged the D.C. Council to pass an anti-loitering ordinance, something the city currently lacks.

Youths in particular are said to be sensitive to a greater range of high-pitch sounds. But Gallery Place Partners, LLC, insists they did not install the “state-of-the-art safety feature” to target teens alone. According to Gallery Place, the Mosquito installed in the Metro plaza is set to a tone that can be heard by people of all ages.

I recall reading that prior attempts to install such devices were accused of being targeted at teenagers because they can better hear and are therefore more annoyed with high-pitched noise-making devices. It sounds like this shopping center is pitching the device as a boon for all users – but are teenagers still the main target?

But this is also a reminder that shopping malls are not public spaces. Even though they are often function as such as place with crowds gathering just to hang out, they are privately owned and the owners are ultimately interested in making money.

Bonus: a link at the bottom of the news story to that takes you to the makers of the Mosquito where you can then find how annoying you find the Mosquito!