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Sound and Neighborhood Walls

The Express Lanes Project Includes:

View of sound wall on MoPac

  • Approximately 7 miles of sound walls in 19 separate locations
  • Walls will be located within the MoPac right-of-way either along the property line or near the roadway, with the exception of a stretch of wall along Great Northern Blvd
  • Wall heights vary between 8’ and 20’ tall depending on topography and location
  • Neighborhood walls (that are aesthetically similar to the sound walls) in select residential locations to replace city-maintained wooden fences

In spring 2017 a design issue was found with some of the precast sound walls. Cracks were forming along some of the bottom panels. An independent engineering study was undertaken to determine the cause of the issue. All wall installation was stopped while the study was underway. As of October 2017, the cause of the cracking has been identified and a corrective action plan is being implemented. Wall installation resumed in January 2018. Replacement of some existing wall panels is also underway. As a result of these issues, sound wall completion is not expected until summer of 2018. 

Sample Sound WallClick here to view a table summarizing the sound wall locations and heights.

Click here to view maps showing the various sound wall locations.

Click here to view renderings of how the sound walls will look and function along the project.

During the design phase of the project it was determined that a utility conflict was going to necessitate the relocation of power lines along a portion of sound wall #3 adjacent to Great Northern Boulevard. As a result, individuals owning property adjacent to this portion of sound wall #3 were advised of the issue and a majority decided they no longer wanted the wall built. Click here to view a graphic depicting the revised limits of sound wall #3. 


Typical Sound Wall - Sequence of Construction


How We Got Here

The Process for Approving Sound Walls

In 2011, the project team identified the location of potential walls and the abutting property owners associated with each wall segment. The project team performed noise mitigation studies and held seven Sound Wall Workshops (more information on the workshops can be found on pg. 462 of the Final Environment Assessment in section 5.3 Sound Wall Workshops). A Context Sensitive Design Advisory Committee (CSDAC) consisting of neighborhood, Texas Historical Commission, City of Austin, and TxDOT representatives helped develop the look and feel of the planned walls.

The Voting Results

A voting process was implemented to determine the opinion of adjacent property owners regarding each wall to determine which walls were to be constructed.

Based on the ballots received, all walls were approved with the exception of three. The three walls that were voted down, and are not part of the project are:

  • Sound wall #2, along Great Northern Blvd. between Pinecrest Drive and Foster Lane on the north end of project study area
  • Sound wall #19, just north of 10th St.
  • Sound wall #20a, closest to Cesar Chavez St. on the south end of the study area

Click the following link for detailed MoPac Sound Wall Voting Results.

Noise Analysis

When determining where sound walls are reasonable and feasible, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) considered the following:

  • Type of land use activity impacted by traffic noise (residential homes, schools, businesses, etc.)
  • Existing noise levels
  • Prediction of future noise levels under each reasonable Build alternative and the No Build Alternative
  • Consideration and evaluation of abatement measures to reduce noise impacts (wall heights and lengths)
  • Consideration of cost and constructability of sound walls or other approved noise reduction alternatives

More About Sound Walls and Noise Abatement

Texas Department of Transportation Guidelines for Analysis and Abatement Roadway Traffic Noise

Federal Highway Administration Frequently Asked Questions about Highway Traffic Noise

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