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SR 85 Noise Reduction

To address existing noise concerns on State Route (SR) 85, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) will implement a three-phase noise reduction program along the corridor.

Phase 1

Noise Reduction Study: VTA will review existing noise conditions using all available noise studies, establish the ambient noise conditions along SR 85, and provide available types of noise reduction strategies that could be implemented with Caltrans approval. Strategies could include:

-Sound wall modification, retrofit and/or treatment

-Landscaping along the highway

-Pavement modifications or treatments.

From the many locations that have elevated noise levels, VTA will identify five locations where the study will provide at least two noise reduction treatments for a pilot test.

Phase 2

Noise Reduction Pilot Project: VTA will implement noise reduction treatments identified in Phase 1 at specified test locations. Noise measurements will be taken before and after the implementation.

Phase 3

Noise Reduction Implementation: Based on the Phase 2 results, VTA will implement noise reduction treatments at other locations along SR 85.

Contact US

Community Outreach
(408) 321-7575, (TTY) (408) 321-2330
www.vta.org
community.outreach@vta.org

Previous Projects & Studies

Due to community concerns regarding freeway noise after SR 85 opened in 1994, the following studies and projects were undertaken by Caltrans and VTA:

1998: Caltrans completed a study of potential alternatives that could be expected to reduce freeway noise by 3 decibels.

2001: VTA completed a study recommending a test project to micro-grind (texture-grind) a portion of the freeway, and conducted noise analyses to determine if an improvement can be achieved.

2003: VTA completed a test project with results that indicated while overall freeway noise levels were not significantly reduced, the frequency characteristics of the noise was modified where it could be harder for humans to hear.

2006: VTA completed a noise mitigation project which included textured grinding of about 11 miles of PCC pavement from east of Almaden Expressway to north of Stevens Creek Boulevard. VTA Mission: VTA provides sustainable, accessible, community-focused transportation options that are innovative, environmentally responsible, and promote the vitality of our region.

2014 SR 85 Express Lanes Environmental Phase: VTA, in cooperation with Caltrans, plans to develop and implement express lanes on the SR 85 corridor in Santa Clara County. The SR 85 Express Lanes Project proposes to convert the existing high occupancy vehicle (HOV)/carpool lanes in both directions between US 101 in South San Jose and US 101 in Mountain View and add a second express lane in both directions between SR 87 and I-280.


During the environmental circulation period for the project, residents showed concern about the existing noise from the SR 85 corridor and anticipated noise from the proposed express lanes, in particular, the double express lanes between SR 87 and I-280 within the cities of San Jose, Campbell, Los Gatos, Saratoga and Cupertino. 

The SR 85 project conducted noise measurements at 149 locations throughout the corridor. The environmental document determined no effect or no more than a 3-decibel increase in noise levels. An increase of 3 decibels is considered barely detectable to the human ear. Under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), changes in traffic noise from the project would not result in a significant impact. Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), noise abatement was considered because 41 noise receptors along SR 85 and US 101 have existing and future noise levels that approach or exceed federal noise abatement criteria. Noise evaluation identified feasible sound walls but none qualified under the Caltrans criteria for new or replacement sound walls.

info-graphic showing noise levels of everyday items

Figure 2: Noise Levels of Common Outdoor and Indoor Activities
(Source: SR 85 Express Lanes Project Initial Study with Negative Declaration/Environmental Assessment with Finding of No Significant Impact Report)

Comparison to Previous Noise Studies: VTA compared 12 receptor locations from previous noise studies. The project noise levels were equivalent.

1987 Final Environmental Impact Statement for the construction of SR 85 between I-280 and US 101 in San Jose, and 1996 environmental document for the construction of High Occupancy Vehicle Lane Widening Project between Dan Street and north of Moffett Boulevard) Comparison to 2013 Saratoga Noise Element Update: VTA compared one noise measurement collected along SR 85 for the 2013 City of Saratoga Draft Noise Element Update, and the noise analysis for the project. The project noise levels are below or in the same range. 

Contact US

Community Outreach
(408) 321-7575, (TTY) (408) 321-2330
community.outreach@vta.org

Mid 2015....................... Begin Phase 1 study
September 2016............. Complete Phase 1 study, report published
TBD.............................. Phase 2 pilot project design and construction, pending Phase 1 study results and funding
TBD.............................. Phase 3 projects design and construction, pending Phase 2 pilot project results and funding

Contact US

Community Outreach
(408) 321-7575, (TTY) (408) 321-2330
community.outreach@vta.org

SR 85 Noise Reduction Study Report (September, 2016) 

SR 85 Noise Study Fact Sheet in English  Chinese  Korean  Spanish  Tagalog  Vietnamese

Please refer to the Caltrans website for the environmental documents.

  • Overview
  • To address existing noise concerns on State Route (SR) 85, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) will implement a three-phase noise reduction program along the corridor.

    Phase 1

    Noise Reduction Study: VTA will review existing noise conditions using all available noise studies, establish the ambient noise conditions along SR 85, and provide available types of noise reduction strategies that could be implemented with Caltrans approval. Strategies could include:

    -Sound wall modification, retrofit and/or treatment

    -Landscaping along the highway

    -Pavement modifications or treatments.

    From the many locations that have elevated noise levels, VTA will identify five locations where the study will provide at least two noise reduction treatments for a pilot test.

    Phase 2

    Noise Reduction Pilot Project: VTA will implement noise reduction treatments identified in Phase 1 at specified test locations. Noise measurements will be taken before and after the implementation.

    Phase 3

    Noise Reduction Implementation: Based on the Phase 2 results, VTA will implement noise reduction treatments at other locations along SR 85.

    Contact US

    Community Outreach
    (408) 321-7575, (TTY) (408) 321-2330
    www.vta.org
    community.outreach@vta.org

  • Archive
  • Previous Projects & Studies

    Due to community concerns regarding freeway noise after SR 85 opened in 1994, the following studies and projects were undertaken by Caltrans and VTA:

    1998: Caltrans completed a study of potential alternatives that could be expected to reduce freeway noise by 3 decibels.

    2001: VTA completed a study recommending a test project to micro-grind (texture-grind) a portion of the freeway, and conducted noise analyses to determine if an improvement can be achieved.

    2003: VTA completed a test project with results that indicated while overall freeway noise levels were not significantly reduced, the frequency characteristics of the noise was modified where it could be harder for humans to hear.

    2006: VTA completed a noise mitigation project which included textured grinding of about 11 miles of PCC pavement from east of Almaden Expressway to north of Stevens Creek Boulevard. VTA Mission: VTA provides sustainable, accessible, community-focused transportation options that are innovative, environmentally responsible, and promote the vitality of our region.

    2014 SR 85 Express Lanes Environmental Phase: VTA, in cooperation with Caltrans, plans to develop and implement express lanes on the SR 85 corridor in Santa Clara County. The SR 85 Express Lanes Project proposes to convert the existing high occupancy vehicle (HOV)/carpool lanes in both directions between US 101 in South San Jose and US 101 in Mountain View and add a second express lane in both directions between SR 87 and I-280.


    During the environmental circulation period for the project, residents showed concern about the existing noise from the SR 85 corridor and anticipated noise from the proposed express lanes, in particular, the double express lanes between SR 87 and I-280 within the cities of San Jose, Campbell, Los Gatos, Saratoga and Cupertino. 

    The SR 85 project conducted noise measurements at 149 locations throughout the corridor. The environmental document determined no effect or no more than a 3-decibel increase in noise levels. An increase of 3 decibels is considered barely detectable to the human ear. Under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), changes in traffic noise from the project would not result in a significant impact. Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), noise abatement was considered because 41 noise receptors along SR 85 and US 101 have existing and future noise levels that approach or exceed federal noise abatement criteria. Noise evaluation identified feasible sound walls but none qualified under the Caltrans criteria for new or replacement sound walls.

    info-graphic showing noise levels of everyday items

    Figure 2: Noise Levels of Common Outdoor and Indoor Activities
    (Source: SR 85 Express Lanes Project Initial Study with Negative Declaration/Environmental Assessment with Finding of No Significant Impact Report)

    Comparison to Previous Noise Studies: VTA compared 12 receptor locations from previous noise studies. The project noise levels were equivalent.

    1987 Final Environmental Impact Statement for the construction of SR 85 between I-280 and US 101 in San Jose, and 1996 environmental document for the construction of High Occupancy Vehicle Lane Widening Project between Dan Street and north of Moffett Boulevard) Comparison to 2013 Saratoga Noise Element Update: VTA compared one noise measurement collected along SR 85 for the 2013 City of Saratoga Draft Noise Element Update, and the noise analysis for the project. The project noise levels are below or in the same range. 

    Contact US

    Community Outreach
    (408) 321-7575, (TTY) (408) 321-2330
    community.outreach@vta.org

  • Schedule
  • Mid 2015....................... Begin Phase 1 study
    September 2016............. Complete Phase 1 study, report published
    TBD.............................. Phase 2 pilot project design and construction, pending Phase 1 study results and funding
    TBD.............................. Phase 3 projects design and construction, pending Phase 2 pilot project results and funding

    Contact US

    Community Outreach
    (408) 321-7575, (TTY) (408) 321-2330
    community.outreach@vta.org

  • Document Library
  • SR 85 Noise Reduction Study Report (September, 2016) 

    SR 85 Noise Study Fact Sheet in English  Chinese  Korean  Spanish  Tagalog  Vietnamese

    Please refer to the Caltrans website for the environmental documents.