Transportation Noise

Federal Control and Abatement Responsibilities May Need to Be Revised Gao ID: RCED-90-11 October 12, 1989

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined aircraft, highway, and railroad noise, focusing on the: (1) extent of the transportation noise problem; (2) status of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) noise control activities and plans when it eliminated its program; and (3) current federal, state, and local noise control activities.

GAO found that: (1) an estimated 3.2 million people lived in areas generally incompatible for residential use because of aircraft noise, and aircraft, railroad, and highway noise levels significantly interfered with sleep, conversation and relaxation in normal environments; (2) under its noise program, EPA issued noise emission standards for trucks, motorcycles, and interstate motor and rail carriers, proposed aircraft noise regulations, and assisted state and local governments in noise program development; (3) prior to eliminating its noise program, EPA planned to further lower transportation noise levels through additional regulations and more effort in assisting localities in land-use planning around transportation facilities; (4) the Federal Aviation Administration had a program that included aircraft noise standards, operating controls, and noise abatement assistance to airports, while the Federal Highway Administration required states to consider noise in planning and designing federally aided highway projects and provided funds for noise barrier construction along federal-aid highways; (5) state and local governments could not adopt their own noise controls for equipment and operations where EPA standards remained in effect; and (6) some states did not expand their noise control offices to assist localities with noise problems.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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