Highway departments are prioritizing noise abatement as a quality-of-life issue for residential areas. DOTs refer to the Federal-Aid Highway Act, which prohibits federal funding of highway projects that will result in traffic noise that exceeds federal limits.

Several producers have capitalized on the aesthetic issue and successfully promoted sound walls that both reduce noise and beautify the landscape, and many erect the walls themselves. Because they use various mass-production techniques to create walls with an architectural look, they can offer their customers a cost-competitive structural product without needlessly raising the price by using architectural production techniques. Various form-liner patterns and pigmented stain/sealers make an inexpensive architectural look possible, and major maintenance is rarely necessary.

Despite major aesthetic and functional advantages in their favor, producers have much promotional work to do to make precast concrete the preferred sound wall material.

Projects along major highways in Chicago and Colorado Springs have improved the landscape with their aesthetic touch. A newly released video produced by PCI's Sound Wall Committee features the Illinois Tollway project. The video includes testimonials from residents and of ficials from cities located along the wall, a listing of benefits, and, most importantly, footage of attractive precast walls.

Several producers have found success in making a superior building material the preferred material for sound walls.

  • Producers who are involved early in the design of the overall project-or better yet, designlbuild a wall-can offer precast not as a commodity but as a cost-competitive, single-source solution to owners' noise problems.
  • Producers can proactively make the case for precast concrete by developing promotional materials.

Concrete sound walls offer clear benefits over those built with alternative materials, giving the producer a promotional advantage.

  • Appearance
  • Design flexibility
  • Graffiti resistance
  • Reparability

This article also discusses ways in which producers in Chicago and Colorado Springs cast two-sided finishes.

Keywords: noise, sound wall, Prestress Engineering Corp., highway, PEC, stain, promotion, Spancrete Manufacturers Association, Concrete Placement Systems, SEMA Precast, Soundcore, graffiti, color