Erich Thalheimer, BSME, INCE Bd. Cert., Acoustical Engineer

Mr. Thalheimer is nationally renowned for his work on construction noise control and policy development.  He has managed and advised on numerous controversial multi-million and multi-billion dollar projects in order to strike a balance between the contractor's need to advance the work and the community's needs for peace and quiet.

For ten years he served as the in-house technical manager for the construction noise control program at the Central Artery/Tunnel Project (The Big Dig) in Boston. Based on this success, Mr. Thalheimer was asked to join a team assembled by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) tasked with updating FHWA's national construction noise policy and prediction model. This work resulted in the new FHWA Roadway Constructing Noise Model (RCNM). In a similar manner, Mr. Thalheimer was also retained to assist the New York City Dept. of Environmental Protection to assist in developing and updating NYC's Construction Noise Regulations. These new rules went into effect in July 2007.  He will be giving a plenary speech to describe the work that went into the NYC noise regulations at the InterNoise 2012 Conference in New York City. 

Based on his recognized expertise, Mr. Thalheimer recently served as Chairman for a special Construction Noise session at NoiseCon 2010. Mr. Thalheimer's construction noise-related work was cited as a positive example in the new textbook, Technology for a Quieter America, published by the National Academy of Engineering in 2010.


Some of the more notable construction noise projects that Mr. Thalheimer has been involved with include the following:

  • Walk Rail Bridge Replacement Project, Connecticut Department of Transportation, Norwalk, CT – The Walk Bridge, which crosses the Norwalk River as part of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, is being replaced with a new bridge.  In response to community concerns about potentially adverse effects associated with construction of the new bridge, a comprehensive Construction Noise and Vibration Control Program was proposed for CTDOT’s consideration to implement.  Of particular concern were potential adverse impacts to endangered sea creatures (harbor seals and sea turtles) at the nearby Maritime Aquarium. Existing conditions were measured, and future potential conditions were predicted for air-borne noise and ground-borne vibration affecting aquarium staff and visitors, and for hydro-acoustic noise levels inside several of the aquarium’s water tanks. Later, noise, vibration and hydro-acoustic levels affecting the Aquarium and its endangered species were monitored during a month-long pile driving test program (TPP) involving nine test pile sites and four different pile drivers.
  • LaGuardia Airport Redevelopment Project, Skanska/Walsh JV, New York City, NY – As part of a joint venture design-build team, performed ambient noise and vibration measurements at eight community receptor locations surrounding LaGuardia Airport, and developed project-wide Construction Noise and Vibration Monitoring and Mitigation Plan. Used the Cadna-A model to predict construction noise levels, and developed an empirical construction vibration model to evaluate potential human annoyance and minor structural damages. Selected criteria included NYC DEP and FHWA noise guidelines, and FTA, USBM, and Swiss SN vibration guidelines.
  • Tappan Zee Bridge Replacement Project, HNTB, Tarrytown, NY – Requested by NY Thruway Authority to visit the project (being built by others) and assist with problematic construction noise control involving a drilling operation near Ferris Lane. Measured noise emissions and evaluated auger drill rigs against project noise limits. Recommended several methods to reduce drilling noise, such as filling the holes with water, erecting a large noise curtain near the drills, using alternative drill tubes not made of steel, manually clean debris off the drill bits, using a high water pressure drilling technique that cuts into the ground, and to consider residential soundproofing options or temporary relocation to hotels.
  • Harvard Science Center Charlesview Demolition, Harvard University, Somerville, Massachusetts – In preparation for demolition of the Charlesview Apartments to make additional room for the Harvard Science Center, performed ambient noise and vibration measurements at six receptors proximal to the work site to determine baseline conditions, developed Construction Noise and Vibration Control Specifications, and evaluated hoe ram activities for potential impacts.
  • U.S. Army Natick Labs Building 4 Windows Replacement, U.S. Army Research Center, Natick, Massachusetts – recommended construction noise criteria, performed ambient and construction noise measurements and assessed results for pilot program to replace windows in Natick Labs Building 4.
  • Ohio River Downtown Bridge, Walsh Construction, Louisville, Kentucky - Performed as the construction contractor’s acoustical engineer. Performed ambient noise measurements, recommended appropriate construction noise criteria, developed several Construction Noise Abatement Plans using the Cadna-A noise model augmented with FHWA’s RCNM model, and guided the contractor on how to comply with noise-related requirements.
  • Manahawkin Bay Bridge Project, New Jersey Department of Transportation, Ocean County, New Jersey - Developed the Underwater Construction Noise Specification for the project in order to protect Atlantic sturgeon and sea turtles from pile driving noise that might adversely affect their reproductive patterns or potentially fatally harm them. Codified the acoustical performance requirements for an underwater bubble curtain and for pile cap cushions. Performed underwater noise measurements using a hydrophone to ensure contractor compliance with specification limits.
  • National Parks Services Soundscapes, National Parks Service, Ft. Collins, Colorado - Invited by NPS to participate as an expert in construction noise control during their attempt to come up with new noise policy for all their parks nationwide. Also sponsored by the National Academy of Engineering. Attended several scoping/formation meetings in Boston and Ft. Collins, lead a working group on construction noise control options during the Soundscape Workshop in November 2012, and writing the task force’s final recommendations.
  • Logan Airport ConRAC Project - Massachusetts Port Authority, Boston, MA  – Performed support services for team designing new master plan for consolidation of car rental areas for Logan Airport in Boston. Developed the Construction Noise Specification 01565 for inclusion in the project’s construction contracts, re-evaluated noise analyses (done by others) for relocation of existing car rental parking areas, and rejected the need for a new bus/limo area noise barrier for the South West Service Area. Performed construction noise compliance monitoring in the community and on the job sites during construction phase, and reported findings to project management.
  • Clinton Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Tunnel Project - Stearns & Wheler, Syracuse, NY – Performed construction noise support in the planning and contracting of a 850-foot long underground water tunnel project in Syracuse, NY. Performed ambient noise monitoring at five receptors, developed the project’s Construction Noise Control Specification 01510, developed a Construction Noise Control Plan using the Cadna-A noise model to predict noise impacts from five phases of work, advised client of noise mitigation options and costs, reviewed construction noise-related submittals during construction phase.
  • Longfellow Bridge Rehabilitation Project - SPS New England, Boston, MA – Performed as contractor’s acoustical engineer on a two year project to rehabilitate the Longfellow Bridge over the Charles River in Boston. Ensured contractor’s understanding and compliance with the project’s (MassDOT’s) noise specification, performed baseline noise measurements, determined noise criteria limits, developed required Noise Control Plan (using the Cadna-A model), assisted contractor as needed to perform and submit constructing noise measurements.
  • Central Corridor Light Rail Transit (CCLRT) East-Civil Project - Walsh/Braun-Intertec, Minneapolis, MN – Performed as acoustical engineer of record for contractor on a three year Design-Build project to construct a new 7-mile light rail project in St. Paul, MN. Developed the contractor’s Construction Noise Control Plans using the Cadna-A model enhanced with equipment noise emissions from FHWA RCNM model, reviewed contractor’s noise monitoring data, advised on noise mitigation options as required.
  • BU Bridge Rehabilitation Project - Pihl Construction, Boston, MA – Performed as contractor’s acoustical engineer on a two year project to rehabilitate the Boston University (BU) Bridge over the Charles River in Boston. Ensured contractor understanding and compliance with the project’s (DCR’s) noise specification, performed baseline noise measurements, determined noise criteria limits, developed Noise Monitoring Plan and Noise Control Plan (using the Cadna-A model), assisted contractor to perform weekly constructing noise measurements and reported results to contractor and DCR.
  • D to M Street Rail Project Construction Noise and Vibration Plans - Sound Transit, Tacoma, WA – Performed comprehensive construction noise and vibration mitigation plans in support of a light rail extension project in Tacoma in order to determine required mitigation measures and to secure necessary variance permits. Potential noise and vibration consequences were modeled from three phases of work involving fifteen work zones using the Cadna-A model for noise and proprietary vibration models.
  • Savin Hill Sewer Project - Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, Boston, MA – Performed construction site noise measurements to ensure contractor compliance with the City of Boston Noise Code during 24-hour sewer tunnel jacking operation near residential neighborhood. Baseline ambient noise levels were monitored at the closest residence, and equipment emission levels were measured on site.
  • South Station Towers - Hines Development, Boston, MA – Supported the developer with construction noise-related issues during the design and permitting of a new high rise complex to be built over South Station in Boston. Ambient noise levels were monitored at receptor locations, daytime and nighttime construction noise levels were predicted using the Cadna-A model, and a draft Noise Specification was developed for agreement between the project and its abutters.

  • Newark Airport Ground Radar Vibration Assessment – Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Newark, NJ – At the request of the FAA, performed a comprehensive vibration assessment of the ASDE-3 ground radar at Newark Airport to evaluate if vibrations from a proposed traffic ramp using drilled shaft construction would interfere or not with the radar’s operation and proper function. An empirical prediction model was developed using caisson drill source vibration levels measured at another site and ground and radar tower propagation effects measured at Newark Airport.
  • D to M Street Rail Project Construction Noise and Vibration Plans - Sound Transit, Tacoma, WA – Performed comprehensive construction noise and vibration mitigation plans in support of a light rail extension project in Tacoma in order to determine required mitigation measures and to secure necessary variance permits. Potential noise and vibration consequences were modeled from three phases of work involving fifteen work zones using the Cadna-A model for noise and proprietary vibration models.
  • Noise Control/GIS Support, City of Boston Environmental Dept., Boston, MA - Performed as special sole source advisor to City of Boston Environmental Department (BED) on noise-related topics including development of a GIS system for city noise levels, construction noise abatement, policy and procedure for collecting and reposting noise measurements data, and review of the City of Boston’s Noise Code.
  • NYC Western Rail Yards Development, Related-Goldman Sachs, New York City, NY – Performed construction noise and vibration analyses for an eight-building commercial/residential development being built over the Western Rail Yards in NY City.  Ambient noise and vibration levels were measured at surrounding receptor locations.  The noise analysis was performed using the Cadna-A noise model for various phases and equipment combinations.  Results were evaluated in accordance with CEQR Guidelines and NYC Noise Regulations.
  • Construction Mitigation for New York World Trade Center Rebuild, New York, NY – Working as a subconsultant to the Volpe Center on a task funded by US EPA, assembled previous papers and specifications, and developed a menu summary of construction noise, vibration, air quality, dust control, and traffic mitigation measures that were used successfully at the CA/T Project in Boston.  These recommendations were delivered to US EPA and the Lower Manhattan Design Group in hopes that they would be adopted for use during reconstruction of the NYC World Trade Center (i.e. Freedom Towers).
  • Croton Viaduct/Jerome Park Reservior Water Treatment Plant, Malcolm-Pirnie, Bronx, NY – Performed noise measurements and model predictions and provided noise control recommendations for the construction of a new water treatment plant in a residential/commercial area.  Clarification and consensus was achieved to resolve conflicting and confusing noise limits that had been incorporated into the project.  Evaluation of noise control measures confirmed the need for noise barriers in order to allow tunneling work to proceed around the clock.  Performed special assessments of project changes and excavation blasting noise potential impacts at nearby Bronx Science High School.
  • Port of Miami Tunnel Project, Miami, FL – Performed preliminary evaluations of construction noise and vibration and developed mitigation specifications for the construction of a new highway tunnel from the Port of Miami under Watson Island to the mainland which is expected to take 4 years and $1.5 billion to complete.  Developed design and mitigation criteria, evaluated potential adverse effects of noise and vibration at nearby residential and commercial receptor locations, coordinated with FDOT and FTE officials.  Developed the project’s Construction Noise Control Specification 01565 and the Construction Vibration Control Specification 13080.
  • FHWA Roadway Construction Noise Model RCNM Handbook, Volpe Acoustics Center, Cambridge, MA – Participated as a key member of a team of experts, assembled by the Volpe Acoustics Center and funded by FHWA, tasked with updating FHWA’s national policies and guidelines regarding construction noise and control.  The new FHWA policy was based on the successful experiences and lessons learned while managing the construction noise control program at the Central Artery/Tunnel Project in Boston.  A new spreadsheet-based construction noise prediction model, entitled Roadway Construction Noise Model (RCNM), was developed and released in February 2006.  An electronic Handbook was also developed which summarizes the history of construction noise control, measurement and modeling considerations, guidelines for severity criteria, the new RCNM model, and means and methods for assessing and mitigating the adverse effects of construction noise.
  • Revision of New York City Noise Regulation, New York City Department of Environmental Protection NYC DEP, New York, NY – Participated as a key member of a team of noise experts, lawyers, regulators, and construction industry representatives tasked with rewriting the construction noise portion of the New York City Noise Regulation.  Recommended equipment noise emission criteria limits and mitigation rules for particularly noisy equipment.  The new regulation, which takes effect on 7/1/07, will require that contractors submit a Noise Mitigation Plan before work commences, and then to use best-available-mitigation-practices in the field as described in the new regulation.
  • Central Artery/Tunnel Project, Mass Highway Dept, Mass Turnpike Authority, Boston, MA - Working for the Construction Management Joint Venture as technical lead for noise, was responsible for managing the Central Artery/Tunnel (The Big Dig) Project's construction noise control program. Duties included serving as in-house technical noise expert directly advising project directors, development of project noise and mitigation policies, development and oversight of contractor compliance with the project’s Construction Noise Specification 721.560, research and recommendation of appropriate construction noise mitigation strategies, developing and implementing the project’s C30A1 window soundproofing contract, training of field staff through technical seminars, supervising the activities of the project’s Nighttime Noise Patrol, evaluating noise consequences and preparing appropriate MEPA documentation for project change notices, presenting noise-related issues before City officials and community groups, and acting as the project's expert for noise-related legal defenses.
    NCEJ 2000 Big Dig CAT Construction Noise Program Article
  • C30A1 Residential Soundproofing Program, Central Artery/Tunnel Project, Boston, MA – In reaction to the need for additional construction noise mitigation options, the feasibility and potential costs associated with a residential soundproofing program were explored for the CA/T Project to adopt project-wide.  Project management accepted the recommendations and the C30A1 Acoustical Window Treatment contract was committed.  Potential noise impact zones were computed based on prototypical construction equipment usage, and various window treatment options were standardized including interior glass sashes, full acoustical window replacements, and temporary clear vinyl curtains.  An Off-Site Noise Mitigation Policy was developed to define eligibility for homeowners to receive acoustical window treatments.  To date some 600 windows have been treated project-wide at an estimated cost of $500,000.  The C30A1 program has been heralded by both the receiving public as well as by FHWA for its effectiveness.
  • I-25/I-225 T-Rex Project, Kiewit Group, Denver, CO – The T-Rex Project, at $1.67 billion, is the largest infrastructure project ever awarded in the state of Colorado.  Working for the Design-Build Contractor, a crucial noise variance was successfully crafted and presented to the Denver Board of Environmental Health to allow nighttime construction operations. The variance proposed self-imposed nighttime noise limits, the use of permanent and temporary noise barriers, the use of quieter-type backup alarms, equipment and time restrictions, and temporary hotel accommodations (3 nights) for residents within certain noise eligibility zones during noisy bridge demolition activates.  The variance was approved, and was extended a year later based on the successful implementation of the T-Rex project’s noise control program during its first year.