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INQUEST
Information Network on QUiet European road Surface Technology

The project aims at coordinating the dissemination of research on the use of low-noise road surfaces in European countries that have less access and experience in that field. A complementary objective is to promote European harmonisation in the field of road-surface noise classification.

Tags: Road

Background

Recent estimates indicate that more than 30% of EU citizens are exposed to road traffic noise levels above that which is viewed acceptable by WHO, and that about 10% of the population report severe sleep disturbance because of transport noise at night (EEA, 2003). The application of road traffic noise mitigation measures to address the problem of road traffic noise is by no means fully developed. Several problems exist which interfere with the effective control of noise emission from roads. In the EU Green Paper on future noise policy published in 1996 (Commission of the European Communities, 1996), it is estimated that in Europe the external costs of traffic noise, which take account of such factors as quality-of-life costs and effects on health, are 0.2-2% of GNP. In total, therefore, a rather significant part of the economy of Member States is affected by noise impact and noise reduction policies. In the same Green Paper, the significant potential for road traffic noise reduction by the use of special low-noise road surfaces was mentioned as a major issue. An EU-funded project, SILVIA, completed in August 2005, has developed a Guidance Manual that aims to make it possible to derive the full benefit from this kind of noise control approach by using noise-reducing surfaces.

Objectives

The general objective of the proposed project is to foster the use of low-noise road surfaces throughout Europe.

To that end, the first specific objective is to disseminate the knowledge, technology and guidelines developed by the SILVIA project as well as relevant aspects from other projects including SILENCE, ITARI, IPG and Leiser Strassenverkehr. This will be achieved by means of workshops for decision-makers, road authorities, contractors, road engineers and policy-makers in European countries that were not involved in SILVIA. Priority will be given to the new Member States, which, in general, have less experience in the field of traffic noise control.

The second specific objective is to set up a users’ network and operate the equipment and procedures developed by SILVIA for classifying and labelling low-noise materials and technologies, testing their conformity of production, and certifying the testing and measurement apparatus. The purpose is to encourage European harmonisation of equipment and procedures and interchangeability of the results with a view to providing a strong base for the future standardising work at CEN level.

The Guidance Manual produced by the SILVIA project
The Guidance Manual produced by the SILVIA project
FEHRL, Brussels, 2006

Description of work

The work is divided into three work packages (WP).

WP1 ‘Workshops’: the organisation of regional workshops in six countries, with an invitation to the 14 neighbouring countries that were not involved in the SILVIA project. The programme of these workshops will mainly consist of presenting the most recent knowledge about using low-noise road surfaces for traffic noise control. It will also give local stakeholders a chance to present the views of their country.

WP2 ‘Users Group’: setting up a users’ network for the classification system proposed by the SILVIA project. The system associates a labelling (or type approval) procedure and a conformity of production testing procedures. It also includes certification procedures for the equipment used in the classification activity. Expertise can also be exchanged and developed within the group so as to prepare the ground for future CEN standards.

WP3 ‘Management’: this covers the general management of the project.

Results

The deliverables are:

D01 to D06: the six workshops and their proceedings

D07: the set up of the users group and the report of its initial meeting

D08: the final activity report of the project.

The impact of the project will be to develop the use of the principles and procedures of the SILVIA Guidance Manual as widely as possible across the EU. The project will provide road authorities with the necessary tools to procure low-noise road surfaces and raise the awareness of the decision-makers about the benefits of implementing low-noise road surfaces while encouraging, as a result of the users group, an effective implementation. Road authorities will be better informed and aware of the potential benefit of resorting to low-noise surfacing technology so that they will support the necessary standardisation work. Due to the knowledge disseminated through the workshops and to the initiation of a users group, they will be able to send competent, motivated experts in the appropriate standardisation and regulation groups at national, as well as European, level.

Acoustic classification, labelling and conformity of production procedures for road surfacing are currently on the agenda of standardisation organisations, namely ISO and CEN. In order to achieve a consensus on a standard, there are two basic prerequisites: namely that a majority of Member States have sufficient experience of the methods and equipment to be standardised and that those methods and equipment are already sufficiently similar and comparable. This is not yet the case. The project will stimulate the acquisition of measuring equipment and the use of procedures set up by SILVIA in those countries not already suitably equipped, and favour the harmonisation of those methods and equipment throughout Europe.

Thus the project will encourage the use of an effective instrument in the implementation of the EU Directive on Environmental Noise (particularly with regard to the action plans due by July 2008 and every five years thereafter).

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