This Week's Problem
Freeway noise and pollution.
In Castro Valley ( our little peace of heaven ), we have a freeway that borders our town. Some say "runs through it". Some say "borders". Regardless, it is loud. When night settles and the birds quiet … an ever-present hum can be heard from our lovely Hwy 580.
Many a night have I pondered this hum. My double pane windows do not hold it out. People on the hills of our valley hear it even clearer than some of us that live closer. Sound travels and climbs. And let us not even mention what comes out of the cars themselves. That is a whole other issue.
A Solution Pondered
The EnviroTunnel ( ET ).
An above ground tunnel system that encloses freeway traffic in a half “bubble”. Thick enough to dampen sound. Non-porous and fitted with pollution filtering “add-ons”.
This is an idea in evolution. I will be updating here regularly. However, you are invited to post your feedback our Facebook page.
The concept is to encase a freeway in a thick rubber/plastic tunnel. One that is held in place by regularly spaced, steel, arches. Looking much like a slinky tunnel that is cut in half. The steel arches will be set on tracks. Which are placed on either side of the roadside. With rubber draped ( tent-like ) between the steel arches.
The rubber material would be transparent. Allowing for the sky to still be visible while driving. Thick enough to dampen noise. With the thickness of the rubber proportional to the level of traffic any given freeway experiences. Light enough that, in case of failure, rubber bumpers would be all that hit the road or those on it.
A series of holes would be created in the top of the ET. With collection tubes running to roadside filtering systems. Systems which would collect traffic pollution and filter as needed.
The steel arches could be equipped with all manor of gadgets. They could operate as Wifi antennae for the passing cars and the surrounding communities. They could provide speed and traffic measuring services to local service departments. Strips of solar paneling could be placed along the top of the ET. Collecting enough energy to power the air filters mentioned earlier. And, of course, the rubber membrane could be a medium for LED advertising and virtual billboards.
In order to have a controlled space to test this in, imagine using the strip of highway from where Hwy 238 ends to the 580 Market Place location. A short span of highway. Just enough to test out a concept and, at the least, wrap one little part of highway in a noise reducing blanket ;)
Why The Thought?
I spend a great deal of time on local freeways and, as of yet, have not been able to purchase an electric vehicle that might aid in calming the problem of traffic noise. So, I began to think about what kind of structural answers might exist for the problem of freeway noise and pollution. With the understanding that it is likely to take a number of decades for the existing combustion engines to be weened out of our society ( at the best ).
My primary focus was on the pollution ( smog ). However, recently, I have been waking during the nights and hearing more and more of the freeway noise through my thick windows and walls. What I noticed was that the growing freeway sounds were hitting the hills around our home and bouncing all around our lovely little valley. Over time, getting louder and louder.
So, I started to ponder.
OpenThoughts Are OpenSource
In short; “Like the idea? Used it.”
Any ideas posted on this portion of our site are completely open and we claim no ownership of them. If you, your government, business or interest group, has the ability to move any of these “ideas” forward > just do it.
We would LOVE to hear about what you are doing, how you are doing it and how we might help. But, again, these are ideas we are poring into the thought stream and we encourage anyone to dip into this stream liberally.