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August 11, 2020

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Tackling noise calls for efforts from all

For about three years, some residents in Shanghai’s Pudong New Area have found their rights of repose impaired by a nearby highway which has yet to install soundproof walls.

Those standing at the top of a high-rise building have had to shout to be heard, said a report by Shanghai Observer last week. Whenever heavy-duty trucks trudge by, the report added, the noise level rises above 100 decibels.

People could normally rest well against noises at 30-40 decibels, or below. At 70 decibels, one can hardly concentrate his or her mind. At 100 decibels, one’s hearing can be hurt. But some residents in two large communities near the hectic highway in question have been exposed to extreme noises since they moved in around 2016 or 2017. Individuals and neighborhood committees have tried to solve the problem by communicating with all parties concerned, but a workable solution did not emerge until recently when, with the help of media mediation, initial measures were taken to insulate the affected communities from traffic noises.

It’s now clear that the highway was completed and opened to traffic in 2009, long before the nearby residential complex was ready for inhabitation. Generally speaking, it was not for the constructor of the highway to foresee the rise of any residential complex nearby. Moreover, under current municipal regulations, the constructor of a highway in the suburbs should install soundproof walls if it passes through residential neighborhoods within a distance of 50 meters. The two communities in Pudong lie about 140 meters and 230 meters, respectively, from the highway. According to Shanghai Observer, local government departments and the original developer of the residential complex are now taking it upon themselves to rectify the situation with the help of other parties concerned. Actions have been taken to measure the specific decibel levels from different points so that effective soundproof designs will be worked out.

This is just the latest example of “all-hands-to-the-pump” approach to urban management. There is certainly room for improvement regarding some early urban designs. In responding to complaints from the populace, the local government has shown its willingness to make this city more livable.

Just a few days ago, local management authority and media also conspired to address the complaints of some other residents in Pudong suffering from the noise of some sightseeing helicopters. Flight routes have been subsequently adjusted to avoid affecting the residents.

Similarly we can solve more noise pollution issues through communication.


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