New noise walls being built along the West Gate Freeway as part of the West Gate Tunnel will bring an artistic touch and a new standard of protection from noise for the community.
Designers are putting the finishing touches on the design of the walls soon to be installed along the West Gate Freeway. The finished product will be a meaningful, artistic design that significantly reduces traffic noise along the busy freeway.
The old wooden noise walls will be replaced with improved designs and new noise walls will be built to reduce noise in homes, backyards and parks. The first of the brand-new noise walls will start to be installed over the next few months.
In response to community feedback, a noise standard of 63 dB(A) has been developed specifically for the West Gate Tunnel Project that responds to the unique noise issues and community needs along the project’s route. With some residents experiencing noise today of up to 70 dB(A), this will be a significant improvement. A decibel is a unit used to measure the intensity of sound. For example a running shower or dishwasher sits at around 70 dBA, so the new walls will block noise to be quieter than this. The new standard is also an improvement on the current industry practice for freeways which is 68 dB(A).
Apart from making houses and parks quieter, the noise walls also draw on significant cultural and landscape design references, such as Melbourne’s western plains and the surf coast.
When viewed on the freeway side, a larger scale pattern reflects the western region’s hills and rolling surf, incorporating shades of pale blues and greens through use of transparent acrylic panels.
The acrylic panels also allow sunlight to pass through reducing shadows – a feature that is particularly important to residents living next to the freeway.
Contrasting this, the bottom of the walls feature textured concrete panels that provide protection and sturdiness. The scale of the pattern detail varies from the freeway side of the noise walls to the community side, with a finer-grained pattern used on the community side to ensure appropriateness to the local area.
Frances McNulty, West Gate Freeway precinct design manager for Transurban, explains that there’s much more to noise walls than first meets the eye.
“It’s important to remember that noise walls can have a considerable visual impact on their nearby communities, including residents, people using parks and sports-grounds and cyclists,” she explains.
“The urban design concept we’ve used for the walls allowed us to display a unique visual palette whilst protecting private and community spaces.”
“Once the Project reaches completion we will have built more than nine kilometres of new and improved noise walls, resulting in quieter homes, backyards and parks along the West Gate Freeway,” Frances explains.
Maintenance and potential vandalism has been taken into consideration with the walls easily restored with the use of high-pressure hoses. Noise walls will also be put up in new areas along parks and sporting fields including Crofts, McIvor, Donald McLean and Hyde Street reserves.
To learn more visit westgatetunnelproject.vic.gov.au