County roads carry heavy volumes of higher speed traffic and are frequently located near residential areas. This results in residents concerned with vehicle noise. Although it seems there are many ways to address noise, effective solutions are limited. Information on commonly requested approaches to address vehicle noise is below.
Eliminate truck traffic
County roads play an important role by connecting cities and other major highways important to freight movement. Because they carry all legal traffic, including trucks, they are eligible to receive federal and state funding. Eliminating trucks from county roads would move trucks to less suitable local streets, resulting in increased noise concerns and safety issues.
Enforce noise laws and place signage
Enforcing noise laws is often requested. Noise laws don't apply to county roads under state law (Minnesota Statute 116.07). Without a state law, a local ordinance is required for noise enforcement. No cities in Dakota County have a vehicle noise ordinance because they are difficult to enforce. There would need to be witnesses to any noise infraction and ways to specifically measure vehicle noise relative to background noise, distance to receptors, temperature and wind conditions.
The county does not place signage regarding noise ordinance enforcement because these messages are not enforceable or effective.
Enforce vehicle laws
The state does require every motor vehicle to be equipped with a working muffler (Minnesota Statute 169.69). Muffler systems that have been removed or modified create most vehicle noise issues. Vehicle noise enforcement is focused on truck mufflers. The county has increased vehicle enforcement on county roads since 2018 when a new deputy position was hired. This position increased commercial vehicle inspections, citations (including muffler violations) and education initiatives, including on-site visits and signage at trucking companies.
Install noise walls
Unlike interstate and state highways where noise barriers are common, most county roads have narrow right of way, trails and utilities, limited snow storage, and nearby homes and businesses.
With limited space, noise walls can impact private property, including landscape and aesthetic. They also have high construction and maintenance costs. County roads also have many connecting roadways, resulting in gaps that reduce noise wall effectiveness. These factors make noise walls along county roads impractical in most situations.
The county works with new developments to construct berms outside the right of way to help reduce vehicle noise for nearby properties.
Lower speed limits
The county does not set speed limits. Under state law (Minnesota Statute 169.14), all speed limits on county roads are established through the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) based on an engineering study.
The county can request speed studies from the state. However, at the completion of the study, there is a risk that speed limits could be raised if the study came to that conclusion. For this reason, the request for speed studies are considered carefully with the city or township. The County will pursue such requests where there is a reasonable likelihood of a reduced speed limit. Find more information on speed limits.
Install traffic signals
The county considers traffic signals to manage continuously high levels of conflicting traffic at intersections.
The public views traffic signals as a tool to improve safety and manage speeds. However, they have the highest crash and severity rates of all forms of traffic control due to additional driver decision-making.
They may also increase vehicle noise due to stopping and starting traffic. Find more information on traffic signals.
If you have questions or concerns regarding vehicle noise please contact Dakota County Transportation at firstname.lastname@example.org.