• July 1st, 2023

Installing LRT sound barrier walls on elevated guideways and along narrow urban corridors

Lightweight PVC sound walls are perfect for narrow light rail transit corridors

As cities continue to expand and the demand for efficient urban transportation systems rises, the growth of light rail transit (LRT) systems has gained momentum. As reported by Mass Transit, according to ridership data collected by the American Public Transportation Association, the 2022 year-to-date change for commuter rail shows a 51.82 percent increase and for light rail, a 37.85 percent increase.

Effective urban transportation noise-pollution solutions are required

However, the development of LRT networks in densely populated urban environments often presents unique challenges, particularly when it comes to managing noise pollution. This article explores the increasing need for sound barrier walls along urban LRT systems and delves into the most suitable types of barriers that can be installed in narrow rail corridors with limited space.

Ideal sound barriers for elevated LRT guideways and narrow rail corridors

In addition to their excellent noise-mitigation properties, AIL Sound Walls can be installed easily on narrow rail job sites and are an efficient land-use solution in urban areas. Their lightweight construction means they require smaller footings or foundations, and they can be easily installed on elevated guideways or bridge parapets. Plus, their components are ideal for storage and handing in narrow laydown areas. Reflective or absorptive, these sound barriers are excellent noise-pollution solutions for light rail transportation systems.

Residential developments located near road and rail corridors rely on the excellent sound-mitigation properties of AIL Sound Walls. Their developers know that our system provides economical, long-lasting and effective noise-mitigation solutions that control their costs and keep their residents happy. AIL Sound Walls are also available in a wide variety of colors and textures to enhance the architectural style of any development.

Let’s review some recent projects where our lightweight PVC sound barrier walls have made a difference to people living along these growing urban-transportation systems.


Seattle’s Sound Transit switches from metal to PVC railway noise barrier walls

AIL Sound Walls provided sound barrier wall solutions for Sound Transit’s 8.5-mile L200 Lynnwood Link Extension, part of the overall Sound Transit Light Rail Expansion project. Sound Transit had an Acoustic Panel spec for years that only allowed for metal systems on a 4′ spacing. Together with our project partners, we presented to them to prove the viability of our system that could save them time and money by opening up their stanchion spacing to 8′ with lighter-weight PVC panels that are easier to work with in the field. 

Project partners pleased with speed and versatility of PVC sound barrier walls

On this project, we contracted directly with the joint venture and their crews self-performed the installation according to our layout drawings. They loved the speed and flexibility of working with our PVC systems on an 8′ spacing versus their previous 4′ metal systems.

LRT project used both Silent Protector and Tuf-Barrier sound wall panels

The project used our Silent Protector (Absorptive) system on its elevated guideway sections and our Tuf-Barrier (Reflective) system on its MSE retaining wall sections. In both cases, our versatile system proved easy to mount to the structures with specialized stanchions and hardware developed by the Sound Transit and joint venture teams with the support of local fabricators.

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AIL Sound Walls replace deteriorated wooden noise barrier to protect neighbors from rail noise

Brickworks Lane Townhomes is a condo development in the Stockyards District of Toronto, at St. Clair Avenue West and Weston Road. The established development is located against a major LRT line and the existing wood sound barrier had deteriorated with such large gaps that it was no longer doing its job. Naturally, the property managers were looking for a longer-lasting alternative for its replacement. AIL Sound Walls checked off all their boxes:

  • Easy to install with less excavation for footings
  • Long-lasting PVC construction in attractive colors
  • Impermeable to weather
  • Will not rot, rust or stain
  • Sustainable and low maintenance
  • Lower installed cost

AIL Sound Walls help customers through the noise barrier installation process

The property managers were unfamiliar with sound barrier wall projects, so we worked closely with them to ensure they got the best possible outcome. We connected them with companies (designers, surveyors, contract managers) to get the information that was required. This helped them generate a clear scope of work for bidding and execution.

The initial bid was over budget; however, we worked with the property manager to revisit the design and execution of the install. We got the project numbers to fall in line and the customer got the solution they were looking for — an economical, smart-looking and effective sound barrier wall that will last for many decades.

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LRT noise barrier wall dons the pads for University of Houston practice field

Lightweight and easy-to-install AIL Sound Walls were selected for a particular section of Houston’s major Metrorail expansion. The University of Houston’s football practice field lies adjacent to the noise barrier wall and they were concerned about protecting the players. The City of Houston was concerned about protecting their main sewer and storm drainage lines.

The university asked that we design the barrier to allow for mounting heavy protective pads on the back, so we had to integrate extra reinforcement into our barrier to support that load. The city didn’t want a standard precast concrete sound barrier in this section, fearing its weight might damage the pipelines and repair/maintenance access might be more difficult. Our Tuf-Barrier (Reflective) sound wall system got ready to get its game face on and crossed those lines with ease.

Continuous concrete footing avoids drilling over sewer and storm drainage lines

We worked hand in hand with our project partners to design a continuous footing foundation as they weren’t able to drill traditional pillar footings due to the underground services. We also collaborated with the fence pad supplier to ensure our system was designed properly to accept and support their heavy load. According to our project partners, both the Metrorail and the university teams are happy with the new barrier and they’ve received only positive feedback on the sleek look of our barrier over the standard precast alternatives.

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Versatile AIL Sound Walls integrate with BC SkyTrain’s existing guideway railings

The Evergreen Line is an 11-km extension to the existing SkyTrain system in Vancouver, BC. Due to residential towers being developed near that station’s elevated guideway, a lightweight sound-mitigation solution was required that could easily be integrated with its existing railing structures. The owner, being very satisfied with another sound barrier we had previously designed and supplied further down this line, contacted the AIL Sound Walls team for this project.

Noise barrier walls were custom-engineered to fit the railings

The aim was to make this sound barrier system as simple and easy to install as possible. Our AIL Sound Walls and Engineering teams worked very closely with the owner and their consultants to review all of the specifications and testing to ensure that our custom-engineered and fabricated posts and brackets would fit on the guideway’s existing handrail system.

When dealing with noise such as rail traffic, AIL’s Silent Protector (Absorptive) sound barrier wall system provides optimum performance. Constructed with long-lasting PVC and acoustical mineral wool, Silent Protector is one of the industry’s top performers.

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AIL Sound Walls integrate with retaining wall to mitigate commuter rail noise for Maryland seniors’ development

The Modena Reserve at Kensington is one of the latest residential developments by Solera Senior Living. Located in Kensington, MD, the site lies immediately adjacent to a commuter rail line serving the Capitol District. An efficient and effective noise-mitigation solution was needed and a Silent Protector (Absorptive) system from AIL Sound Walls got the nod for the 440′ noise barrier wall.

Lightweight and flexible, AIL Sound Walls accommodate site’s complexities

Similar to a project we completed for another Maryland development in the area, this site offered only a tight space between the buildings and the rail line. Plus, the noise barrier wall had to integrate with a retaining wall and adapt to grade changes. We also had to seal off gaps at the bottom of the sound barrier wall where it met the sloped caps on the retaining wall.

We worked closely with the contractor to develop the best attachment design to integrate our sound barrier wall with the concrete retaining wall. A pre-construction meeting and site visit helped ensure all went well. Positive feedback on the sound barrier wall’s installation and performance was received from the client.

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Longer XL Series panels help lower installed cost of sound barrier walls for light rail transit corridor

Villages of Killarney Beach is a luxury, single-family home development in Innisfil, a town between Toronto and Barrie, ON. The development was being built along the GO Train LRT line, so an effective noise barrier wall solution was needed. AIL Sound Walls designed and supplied a 291-m Tuf-Barrier XL (Reflective) sound barrier wall for the project.

Original plan was for a pressure-treated wood sound barrier wall

The developer’s original plan called for a pressure-treated wood wall, but at the approval stage, the town required them to change to a PVC solution.

Our competitiveness was helped by using our new, longer XL series panels which offer spans of up to 16′. This meant fewer panels, posts and foundations and a lower installed cost than our standard 8′ panel configuration.

Tuf-Barrier XL — going the distance for better value in railway noise barriers

Tuf-Barrier XL can reach lengths of 14′ or 16′ between posts which means fewer posts and foundations for even lower installed costs. With this XL product innovation, we can design our Tuf-Barrier and Tuf-Barrier Plus sound barrier walls with longer spans for all types of wind conditions — even hurricane zones.

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AIL Sound Walls’ features and benefits make them the go-to choice over noise barrier walls made from concrete, wood or other materials.

  • Lightweight PVC construction
  • Sound-mitigation performance
  • Lower installed costs
  • Durable and low maintenance
  • Sustainable and enviro-friendly choice
  • Enhanced aesthetics and finish levels
  • Project design versatility
  • Experienced project partner

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There’s an AIL Sound Walls specialist ready to help you value engineer a better solution for your sound-mitigation project — and the sooner they get involved in the process, the more you may save. Call toll-free 1-866-231-7867 to get started.

The AIL Group of Companies