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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

National Transportation Noise Map

Thursday, November 24, 2022

The purpose of the National Transportation Noise Map is to facilitate USDOT stakeholders, researchers, industry and the public in their efforts to track trends in transportation-related noise, by mode, and collectively for multiple transportation modes. The National Transportation Noise Map provides a basis for understanding what-if scenarios and helping policy makers and planners to prioritize noise-related transportation investments. The data allow viewing the national picture of potential exposure to aviation, highway, and rail noise. The data also allow viewing of the potential exposure at the state or county level. This is the first time BTS is venturing out into this world of providing a noise map and data that people can use. Being able to see the modes together is exciting. The public typically only sees these data individually, and now they will see how these interdependent data sets will present a more comprehensive picture

The National Transportation Noise Map will be an addition to the National Transportation Atlas Database, a set of nationwide geographic databases of transportation facilities, networks, and associated infrastructure available from the BTS Geospatial Data Catalog.  The layers 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 maritime.

Noise Map Data Files for Download 

The National Transportation Noise Map and associated data were developed for national level analysis and includes simplified noise modeling.  It is intended for the tracking of trends and should not be used to evaluate noise levels in individual locations and/or at specific times. 

There are potential differences in the data sources and the complexity of the models used for noise modeling depending on type of analysis.  The term “potential to be exposed” is used because there are several conservative assumptions that go into the analysis. If any one of those assumptions were to change, the noise exposure numbers could also change. For example, the documentation states “Shielding is not considered (i.e. attenuation due to barriers and terrain are not considered)”; for areas that have shielding, the noise levels may be overestimated. The average implies that sound levels could be both higher and lower, depending upon time of day, season of the year, etc. Additionally, sounds from transportation sources other than aviation, road, and rail (e.g. helicopters, maritime, intermodal facilities) as well as non-transportation sources are not considered. Sounds from things such as construction sites, rock quarries, power plants, etc., could dampen some of the transportation noise.

* Before you download noise data for the Continental U.S. (2016, 2018, or 2020), please review the instructions for repairing the mosaic raster.