Traffic Noise Model® receives major upgrades

Posted in: Bridges, Construction, Environmental, Highways, Infrastructure


The Federal Highway Administration changes the noise modeling game again with their first major update to Traffic Noise Model® in over a decade – TNM 3.0. With recent improvements, TNM 3.0 will allow for more efficient upgrades and future maintenance to an age-old problem, highway noise.

An unpleasant byproduct of our incredible transportation network, highway noise has plagued us since the first automobile rumbled down a roadway. For decades, not much was done about protecting people, places and things that were located next to highways. That is until 1970, when the Federal-Aid Highway Act mandated standards for investigating and mitigating noise levels produced by highway traffic.

But how did FHWA evaluate the levels of noise and proscribe the needed mitigation? Let’s travel back in time.

Features and enhancements of TNM 3.0 are expected to provide users with more flexibility and accuracy during the data entry process. They also provide better visual representations during the data analysis phase of highway traffic noise studies. New TNM 3.0 features include:

  • a map-based GUI for data entry and analysis
  • acoustical algorithms, including the ability to process sound reflections off single barrier walls
  • interoperability via a TNM plug-in to Esri’s ArcGIS®, AutoDesk’s AutoCAD® and Bentley’s MicroStation®
View in TNM 3.0

TNM 3.0 is the result of surveys and small group discussions where many GUI improvements, software bugs and functionality enhancements were identified. The new user interfaces allow traffic engineers, roadway designers and noise specialists to better collaborate on roadway designs. The best part, these designs are easily presented to the public using the new interfaces.

Interested in testing the waters? It is not anticipated TNM 3.0  will be allowed for use on Federal-aid highway project studies until early 2018 or later. Required use is unlikely until late-2018 or early-2019, but training on TNM 3.0 is underway. If you are using TNM, let me know how these upgrades will improve your next project.


Dustin Wolff, AICP

About the Author

When he works on development and preservation plans, Dustin Wolff keeps in mind that communities need to evolve. “Helping people shape their futures is a rewarding and humbling responsibility,” he says. “The built environment has a profound effect on our lives. Decisions we make today will be felt for years to come.” He also enjoys visiting cities around the U.S. to experience what makes them special.

Read more posts by Dustin Wolff, AICP

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