The U.S. Department of Transportation this week released a national “noise map,” tracking decibel levels in cities around the country. The map focuses exclusively on noise caused by transportation, which explains why there is not an angry red splotch around my downstairs neighbor’s apartment and his expensive speakers.
Unsurprisingly, the most transportation-related noise in Dallas stems from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, a giant purple streak on the relatively low-decibel orange coating of the region’s many surface streets. Love Field, similarly, brings the noise. Those pink lines crossing the map would be our highways.
Airports and highways, it turns out, are loud.
According to the study the map is based on, about 97 percent of Americans will potentially “be exposed to noise from aviation and Interstate highways at levels below 50 decibels or roughly comparable to the noise level of a humming refrigerator. A much smaller segment of the U.S. resident population has the potential to be exposed to higher levels of aviation and Interstate highway noise.”
The very unlucky one-tenth of a percent that “could potentially experience noise levels of 80 decibels or more, equivalent to the noise level of a garbage disposal,” may want to look into moving. And, as U.S. DOT suggests, planners should consult maps such as this to account for the racket of transportation.
For reference, the dark purple and blue areas of the map could potentially endure noise of 80 decibels and above, the lightest orange about 35. (The loud spot west of Fort Worth, which took me a minute to puzzle out, is the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base.)
Zoom in and around the country’s noisiest transportation hubs at your leisure here.