Barrier experiment being tested to absorb A12 traffic noise on Blackwall Tunnel Approach

The answer to tackling traffic noise from 15 million vehicles on the A12 every year. Picture: Edmund Sumner

The answer to tackling traffic noise from 15 million vehicles on the A12 every year. Picture: Edmund Sumner - Credit: Edmund Sumner

An experimental barrier to reduce the impact of traffic noise has been installed on the A12 dual-carriageway next to Bromley-by-Bow station, the first of its kind anywhere in Britain.

Fran Jefcoate... "You can't have a conversation with the person next to you, let alone make a phone call," Picture: Edmund...

Fran Jefcoate... "You can't have a conversation with the person next to you, let alone make a phone call," Picture: Edmund Sumner - Credit: Edmund Sumner

It has been designed as a public artwork, but made with absorbing materials to relieve the stress on families on the housing estates close to the Blackwall Tunnel Approach by who are plagued by noise and vibration from the constant stream of heavy traffic.

The noise along the A12 from the 15 million vehicles a year has consistently been found by The University of East London to exceed 78 decibels.

This puts the six-lane highway in “the most severe category” for noise pollution, according to the Environment Department and the World Health Organisation.

People living on the estates next to the A12 took part in a survey and put the constant traffic as “a highly irritable source of noise” in Bromley-by-Bow.

The noise-absorbing barrier on the A12 outside Bromley-by-Bow Underground station could be tried in other parts of the...

The noise-absorbing barrier on the A12 outside Bromley-by-Bow Underground station could be tried in other parts of the country. Picture: Edmund Sumner - Credit: Edmund Sumner


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“You can’t have a conversation with the person next to you, let alone make a phone call,” Fran Jefcoate who took part in the survey said. “The traffic noise makes it impossible to hear.

“I hope this new barrier makes it better for those of us who using this stretch of pavement by the Underground station.

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The barrier got full backing from Poplar Harca housing association which manages the estates along the A12 that have suffered the traffic noise since it was opened as the A12 extension to the Blackwall Tunnel in 1972.

Funding for the barrier came from TfL and Tower Hamlets Council.

Mayor John Biggs said: “This should comfort residents who suffer from excessive noise from the A12. They have complained about the level of noise pollution, so if the barrier is successful it could be tried out elsewhere.”

The barrier is made up of ‘silk metal’ noise resistant material, designed by architects Beep Studio intended as a public artwork. The construction team was a collaboration between the architects and Expedition Engineering, Cake Studio, Echo Barrier and Power and Line.

It could be extended or replicated elsewhere along the A12 between Poplar and Bow and even other parts of the country if it proves successful and public perception of noise pollution is found to reduce.

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