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.

The noisy biodegradable SunChips bag dies a quiet death

The biodegradable SunChips bag has been pulled from the market because it is not convenient enough for customers. The issue? It is too noisy:

The noise of the bag — due to an unusual molecular structure that makes the bag more rigid — has been compared to everything from lawnmowers to jet engines. There’s even an active Facebook group with more than 44,000 friends that goes by the name of “Sorry But I Can’t Hear You Over This SunChips Bag.”

“Clearly, we’d received consumer feedback that it was noisy,” says Aurora Gonzalez, a Frito-Lay spokeswoman. “We recognized from the beginning that the bag felt, looked and sounded different.”

The bag illustrates the sometimes unexpected bumps that can trip up companies trying to do the right thing environmentally. SunChips sales have declined more than 11% over the past 52 weeks (excluding Wal-Mart, which doesn’t share its data), reports SymphonyIRI Group, the market research specialist.

A little noise doesn’t seem to be a bad price for having a compostable bag. If products have to be convenient to be successfully green, then one might suggest many consumers aren’t terribly serious about being green.

Also, what is with the journalistic trend of using the size of certain Facebook groups to lend weight to certain “movements”? “Even” 44,000 Facebook users are against the product – is the company reacting to this group or other consumer pressure or data?