In an area crisscrossed with high volume commuter routes and heavily-trafficked Interstates, it’s inevitable that some folks are going to live in close proximity to a highway. It’s great to be near the Beltway or Route 66 because this can take a serious bite out of your commute. But the downside is that the highways can generate a lot of noise. In most areas, there are towering concrete walls to dampen sound in the neighborhoods in close proximity to the Beltway, I-66, I-395 and other highways.
In the picture above the wall has been taken down as work crews expand the road. Once the expansion is completed, they’ll reassemble the wall. There’s not much you can do about construction, but once the wall is back up, the neighborhood should be relatively quiet. In the homes and condos closest to the walls, I find that the noise sounds a bit like a waterfall—a wooshing white noise that is not particularly offensive. The noise is perhaps worst near an exit. Exit ramps create noise because every so often a trucker exiting the highway will use his “jakebrake”. That is to say, the truck will gear down and emit a loud, low growling noise not unlike a Harley Davidson’s loud pipes.
Here’s a thought to consider if you are purchasing a condominium near the highway. In my travels I’ve found that the condos at the ground floor are much quieter. This is because the condos on the top floor are often just above the sound-break and therefore get the full brunt of the highway noise. Some folks like the noise … it sounds like busy and they like being in the city. Some folks can’t stand the noise and find out the hard way … after they’ve purchased … that they could have gotten a first or second floor unit.