The Role of Noise Barriers in Public Infrastructure


Noise barriers can be an effective solution for blocking out traffic noise and other loud noises like airplane engines. They are most commonly seen in urban areas where they help to reduce the amount of sound pollution that reaches homes, schools, and businesses. Noise barriers also help to provide a visual buffer between highways and residential neighbourhoods.

Noise barriers in Singapore are an important part of public infrastructure and can be found in a variety of forms. They can range from simple, low-profile noise buffers to towering structures that sharply define the line between two buildings.

Noise barriers in Singapore often serve as a physical manifestation for what they’re protecting against: the barrier itself becomes the symbol for protection, warning those on either side that there is danger ahead. In addition to their role as a defence mechanism, these structures also provide convenience by shielding people from undesirable sounds such as traffic or pedestrians outside.

Among the roles of noise barriers in public infrastructure are:

  1. Mitigate traffic noise coming from highways and railways.

In various countries across the globe, you may find highways surrounded by walls, especially those approaching commercial and mixed-use areas. Apart from being perimeter barriers, these walls have a noise-blocking function.

These noise barriers are built to reduce the impact of highway noise from being felt by nearby residential and commercial communities. The sounds coming from the daily traffic can affect the wellbeing of those exposed to them, and these may lead to long-term health problems such as damaged eardrums and increased risk of heart disease.

Noise barriers are also installed in railways, especially in stations that are near residential communities. Residential neighbourhoods consisting of HDBs or low-cost housing projects are usually situated near transport stations, and they are exposed to the sounds these areas generate on almost a daily basis. With noise barriers present, the impact of these sounds is kept at rather tolerable levels, allowing surrounding communities to live and thrive comfortably.

  1. Prevent the sounds of public utility works from affecting daily activities.

Noise barriers are also installed in areas where public utility works are taking place. These include repair activities for water and electricity, and installation of utility lines for building and other structures. Regardless if the public work activities are held underground or on the road, they both use equipment and machinery whose sounds can be discomforting to the ears.

Temporary noise barriers are installed to enclose areas where public utility repairs are taking place, and are then removed once the project is over. Meanwhile, permanent noise barriers are built on places where enclosures for machines are situated (such as water tanks, emergency power generators, and water pump turbines). These machines are operated on almost a daily basis, and since they generate unwanted sound effects, surrounding them with noise barriers keeps their noise levels down.

  1. Create safe spaces for community-based activities.

Noise barriers installed in public infrastructure not only merely block highway or activity sounds; they also help maintain peaceful environments in public spaces such as parks and playgrounds.

Quiet surroundings are essential in these places since people come here to relax and enjoy the outdoors. These barriers then temper the sounds coming from nearby sources to rather tolerable levels; those visiting these places are spared from being distracted or experiencing discomfort by the unwanted noise.