Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

I-94

Oakdale, Woodbury, Landfall, Lake Elmo, Afton and Lakeland

Noise walls

Locations of proposed noise walls in the I-94 Oakdale to Lakeland project area

Locations of proposed noise walls
Click image for larger version

Noise walls are solid obstructions built between the highway and properties along the highway designed to reduce the noise level of vehicles. Walls can be either berms or high vertical walls. Noise walls block the direct path of sound waves from the highway to homes and businesses along the highway. They do not eliminate noise; they only reduce it. To be considered effective, a noise wall must reduce noise impact to receptors by at least 5 decibels.

As a requirement of the I-94 Oakdale to Lakeland project, MnDOT conducted a noise analysis. Through this process, potential noise walls were identified. The benefited properties have an opportunity to vote on these identified noise walls. If the voting results determine noise wall(s) to be built, the noise walls would be installed as part of the overall construction project, which is anticipated to occur in 2022-2024.

Specific results for the noise analysis are available within the Draft Noise Report (PDF) for this project.

Proposed noise wall along I-94 west of I-494
Proposed noise wall along I-94 east of I-494

Please note that renderings are for illustrative purposes only and are subject to change.

Noise wall voting

MnDOT sent notices and noise wall ballots to people who were eligible to vote. Only the property owners or residents who would experience a noise level reduction of at least five decibels from the proposed noise walls were allowed to vote on the walls.

Noise wall voting period start: Mon, Aug. 16, 2021
Noise wall voting meeting: Wed, Sept. 1, 2021 at 4:30 p.m.
View meeting presentation (PDF)
Noise wall voting period end: Fri, Sept. 17, 2021

*If greater than 50 percent of the total eligible points are no votes then the noise wall is removed from the project.

Final voting tally (as of Sept. 20, 2021)

Wall 3

South side of I-94 in Woodbury west of I-494

  • Total eligible points: 1050
  • Yes Points: 728 (69.3%)
  • No Points: 4 (0.4%)
  • Decision: Wall will be built
Wall 18

North side of I-94 in Lake Elmo east of I-494

  • Total eligible points: 177
  • Yes Points: 158 (89%)
  • No Points: 0 (0%)
  • Decision: Wall will be built

More information about noise wall voting

Property owners and residents who will experience a noise level reduction of at least five decibels can vote for or against the noise wall that provides the noise reduction.

Who is eligible to vote on whether a noise wall should be constructed?

MnDOT will send notices and noise wall ballots to people who are eligible to vote. Only the property owners or residents who experience a noise level reduction of at least five decibels from the proposed noise walls can vote on the wall.

How does voting work?

If 50 percent or more of all possible voting points from eligible voters are received after the first request for votes, the majority of votes (based upon the votes received) determines the outcome. If less than 50 percent of the possible voting points for a wall are received after the first request, a second ballot will be mailed to the eligible voters who did not respond.

If 25 percent or more of all possible points for a wall are received after the second request for votes, then the outcome is determined by the majority of votes received. If less than 25 percent of total possible points for a noise wall are received after the second request for votes, then the wall will NOT be constructed. If there is a tie, where there are equal numbers of points for and against a noise wall, the noise wall WILL be constructed.

What happens if I didn't vote?

If you don’t vote, the voting points assigned to you do not count for or against the noise wall.

How are the votes counted?

MnDOT uses a weighted voting system. Points are determined by how much your property or unit is affected by the noise wall and whether or not you own the property or unit. If a noise wall is voted down, it will not be reconsidered.

For more information about noise analysis and noise walls, please visit the MnDOT noise analysis webpage.

More information about noise walls

When does MnDOT conduct noise studies?

Two project types activate a noise study:

  • The first is for a major reconstruction project in which the road would be expanded with additional lanes or would significantly change the alignment of the road. This type of project usually requires an in-depth environmental review process in which many issues are looked at - in this case, noise and noise walls.
  • The other program is commonly referred to as a retro-fit project. It is for stand-alone noise walls where major reconstruction is not planned in the near future. As part of this program, areas are ranked by existing noise levels, length of noise wall and number of homes.

How are noise impacts determined?

Receptors (defined typically as homes, apartments, parks, trails, schools, businesses, etc.) are impacted by noise if existing or future traffic noise levels approach or exceed Federal Noise Abatement Criteria. For residential land uses, noise levels must be at least 66 decibels or predicted to increase by 5 decibels or more. The analysis is based on noise levels experienced at commonly used outdoor areas. If noise impacts are identified as part of a project noise study, then MnDOT is required to evaluate noise reduction measures such as installing noise walls.

How does MnDOT determine where noise walls are constructed?

A noise wall must be both feasible and reasonable if it is to be constructed with a highway project. The reasonability of a noise wall is determined by factors such as cost, amount of reduction in noise, safety and site features. Decisions on noise mitigation locations are determined on a case-by-case basis.

Can noise increase as it passes over a wall?

No. Noise does not increase as it passes over the wall. The further noise travels, the greater the reduction in noise.

Could trees be planted to block traffic noise?

There isn’t enough space to plant the amount and size of trees needed to reduce traffic noise. To effectively reduce traffic noise there needs to be room for at least 100 feet of dense evergreen trees that are 15 feet tall or higher. Additionally, when trees are used to reduce noise impacts, they need to be maintained. MnDOT lacks the necessary resources to maintain trees or other vegetation for the area.

Do noise walls affect property values?

There haven’t been any studies that link property values to noise walls. Future buyers may either appreciate the noise reduction the wall provides, or they may have aesthetic concerns about its presence.