WILMINGTON – The city’s population has doubled in the last 20 years and crowded roads and increased air traffic have had a serious impact on the noise level.
A new interactive map released last week by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistic lets residents see where the noisiest – and quietest – parts of the nation are. The map shows regions down to the street level, ranked by average decibels received over a 24-hour period; the data was collected over the course of the year in 2014.
According to the DOT, the map will “facilitate the tracking of trends in transportation-related noise, by mode, and collectively for multiple transportation modes.”
Not surprisingly, the Wilmington International Airport produces a lot of noise, as the map shows. The two major approach and take-off paths from the airport’s two main runways avoid Wrighstville Beach but blanket the downtown area with sound. The paths may have avoided major population centers 20 years ago, but with increased development – for example in Castle Hayne – flights will inevitably cross dense population areas.
Major roadways obviously also generate a lot of noise, but as the maps shows, some roads generate more than others. The detail of the map lets users see individual neighborhoods and search for street addresses.
Some of the loudest areas on the map occur where flight-plans overlap major thoroughfares. Especially noisy is the stretch of Kerr Avenue between Martin Luther King Boulevard and College Road, as well as parts of the Murrayville neighborhood bordering I-40.
Users of the map should note, the initial DOT noise survey did not include cargo rail. The DOT states the map will “be updated on an annual basis, and future versions of the National Transportation Noise Map are envisioned to include additional transportation noise sources, such as rail and maritime.”
For those concerned about railway noise in the meantime, fear not, there’s a map for that.
Neither the DOT or the NCDOT track noise from military aircraft. For that reason, areas like Carolina Beach that see frequent fly-over from Coast Guard helicopters and other aircraft may appear deceptively quiet on the map.