More pedestrian streets or rearrange traffic, measures to reduce noise in Reus

It has been a year since Reus approved the new Noise and Vibration Ordinance, which updates the previous text, from 1999. It is committed to a quieter city and traffic is the main source of noise in the streets. But so far, how has Reus progressed in reducing noise pollution? As detailed by municipal sources consulted, measures such as the rearrangement of traffic or the transformation of streets into a single platform and pedestrians are some of the actions that are part of this search for a less noisy city. Although they are not the only ones going in this direction. Work is also being done, for example, on noise problems generated in leisure activities, with controls by the Guàrdia Urbana, or the requirement of power limiters at outdoor parties.

However, "the main focus is traffic noise", it is underlined, and it is here that various measures are being taken to pacify the city. "Although, in the end, the cars are what they are and if you take them off one street, they will go through another and the problem is the same," exclaims Joan Carles López, a resident of Doctor Robert street. He says it from his own experience. And it is that, since the Santa Anna suburb is closed to the circulation of vehicles, all that volume now passes through Doctor Robert "and all the neighbors are very upset," recalls López.

«The data from the new noise map will allow us to continue advancing in the improvement of acoustic quality»

Daniel Rubio. Councilor for the Environment

They complain of more noise, but also of "more pollution and greater danger," they point out. The residents remember that all the traffic has been diverted towards a much narrower street, compared to the Santa Anna suburb, which causes some dangerous situations. They explain that, for example, if on the same sidewalk someone comes across a wheelchair or a baby carriage "you have to go down to the road" and with the current constant passing of vehicles "it is a danger."

With everything, and making it clear that they agree to reduce the presence of cars in the center, they demand alternatives to avoid that "solving a street implies violating the ordinance in a neighboring street." This is where another type of measure comes in: traffic reordering. At the moment, the residents of this area have recently held a couple of meetings with Urbanisme and Guàrdia Urbana and there would be a willingness to study the formula to avoid this exclusive channeling by Doctor Robert and find alternatives. "But they have already told us that, until the pedestrianization works of the suburb are finished, nothing will be done," they lament. For the residents, the challenge requires measures that could go through changing the direction of some streets, "that there are more exits than no entrances."

The pedestrianization of the Santa Anna suburb is the most recent example, now facing the second phase of the works and extending to Salvador Espriu street. But it is a model that is expected to be implemented in other areas of the center, such as Ample street or continue along the Tomb de Ravals.

These are areas with a large volume of vehicles, which translates into high decibel levels. In the third phase of the city's Strategic Noise Map, it is detailed that, for example, the Santa Anna suburb was between 64 and 68 decibels, mostly above the threshold of 65, which is considered comfortable. The noise measurements carried out in the avenues –with two traffic lanes per band– show that the decibels shoot up to 70 in points such as President Macià or Països Catalans.

Josep Lluís, a resident of Avenida de Països Catalans, says that his apartment is well insulated, being aware that it is a central artery of the city. "It is a transit site, both to enter and leave Reus, so I find it difficult to control vehicles in areas like this," he admits.

As for the volume of vehicles that pass by daily, he believes that it has not decreased lately and even the contrary, that it would have increased. "It surely influences that part of Passeig Prim is currently closed due to the works that are being carried out," he argues. In fact, in this third phase of the Strategic Noise Map it is specifically indicated that in Països Catalans "there is an increase in the noise level in the central sections of the street of 5 decibels" during the day. These measures were taken during the month of June 2021 and, now, it will be necessary to see how it has evolved in the following months.

"Traffic must be rearranged so that improving one street does not imply harming the one next to it"

Joan Carlos Lopez. Doctor Robert's neighbor

In fact, "a strategic noise map is currently being drawn up and is in the final phase of preparation," says the councilor for Medi Ambient, Daniel Rubio. With this new document, "new data will be obtained on the acoustic situation of the municipality that will allow us to continue advancing in the improvement of acoustic quality objectives," he adds.

Leisure, parties and garbage collection

Although traffic is the main emitter of noise, there are other sources, which are also being worked on. As previously mentioned, leisure activities are one of the focuses. In this case, the Guàrdia Urbana recently launched a campaign to control this type of activity. In the event that there are specific complaints of activity noise, they are resolved with administrative intervention.

Work is also done at parties in the street, with the requirement of having an acoustic power limiter. In addition, indications are given on the direction in which the speakers should be aimed, to minimize the impact.

«It is difficult to reduce the cars of Països Catalans. It's an entry and exit point."

Josep Lluis. Neighbor of Catalan Countries

Another issue that has been dealt with is garbage collection. Consulted municipal sources recall that the specifications of the new contract included factors to reduce the acoustic impact, both of the vehicles and of the operation of the service.

Up to 70 decibels in the big avenues

Pending the completion of the preparation of a new strategic noise map, the latest available (with data from June 2021), the avenues have high decibel levels. For example, on Avenida de Països Catalans and President Macià, it reaches 70 dBA, when the threshold considered for comfort is 65 decibels. In Avenida de Marià Fortuny, 67 dBA were recorded and in Avenida de Falset, 65. In the center, in the suburb of Santa Anna, 65 decibels were also exceeded, while Camí de Valls was at the limit. However, in the latest strategic noise map it is highlighted that 80% of the streets of Reus are below this threshold of 65.

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