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

Mr. Thalheimer has performed dozens of heavy & light rail and bus transit noise and vibration projects including freight expansion, commuter rail extensions, and metro transit systems.  In general these Environmental Impact projects include the measurement of ambient noise and vibration conditions, the prediction of future rail-generated noise and vibration levels, and the development of cost-effective mitigating measures where warranted.  Mr. Thalheimer is fully equipped with the requisite measurement instrumentation and prediction models to perform work in accordance with the Federal Transit Administration’s Transit Noise and Vibration Impact Assessment Manual (in which his work is referenced).

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


  • MARTA GA 400 BRT/HRT Project EIS, MARTA, Atlanta, GA (2016) – Performed the noise and vibration impact assessment in accordance with FTA guidelines as part of the project’s Environmental Impact Study. MARTA was considering building 12 miles of new tracks to extend an existing HRT corridor, or using additional BRT buses to achieve the same purpose. Ambient noise and vibration measurements were performed at 20 receptor locations. Potential operational noise impacts were assessed using the Cadna-A model, and potential vibration impacts were assessed using the FTA’s vibration model for the General Method. Potential construction noise and vibration impacts were also evaluated in accordance with FTA guidelines.
  • Amtrak K5LA Train Horn Sound Recordings, Amtrak, New Haven, CT (2016) – Performed calibrated acoustical recordings of K5LA train horns under controlled conditions in ConnDOT’s rail yard in New Haven, CT. The recordings were needed to act as a sound source for development of a new grade crossings warning system using wayside-mounted speakers at the crossings. Amtrak wanted to broadcast their existing train horn sound through the speakers.
  • Winchester Cross Street Railcar Delivery; Town of Winchester, MA (2015) – Performed a rail noise study involving freight deliveries at night to a warehouse located proximal to a residential neighborhood. Observed and performed noise measurements during a rail delivery and ambient noise measurements in the community. Evaluated rail noise levels against FTA Manual criteria and Mass DEP noise regulations. Recommended various means of reducing rail noise including a shed to completely enclose the freight train during its delivery process. Also developed a draft Noise Bylaw for the town to consider adapting.

  • Springfield 3rd Street Corridor High Speed Rail Environmental Assessment, Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Springfield, IL (2014) – Performed noise and vibration component for a 5-mile section through Springfield of proposed Amtrak high speed rail service between Chicago and St. Louis.  Performed ambient noise and vibration measurements at five community receptor locations, predicted and evaluated existing and 2030 Build Year noise and vibration levels using the Cadna-A noise model and FRA-approved vibration models, and recommended mitigation in the forms of horn-free Quiet Zones, noise barriers and ballast mats where necessary.  Also performed a comprehensive site-specific noise and vibration study for the Dana Thomas House, a historic landmark estate designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
  • East Rail Maintenance Facility (ERMF), Whitby, Ontario, Canada (2013) - Participated as Acoustical Engineer for team pursuing a Public-Private-Partnership (P3) contract for a new rail maintenance facility. Reviewed project's RFP and developed plan summarizing understanding of and technical approach to comply with the project's multiple noise and vibration requirements for both community noise and building interior noise. Relevant regulations/guidelines included ERMF Environmental Noise & Vibration Assessment, ERMF Project Agreement and Output Specifications, ERMF Metrolinx/GO Transit Architectural Space Data Sheets, MOEE/GO Transit Draft Protocol for Noise and Vibration Assessment, MOE Publication NPC-205, MOE Publication NPC-232, Town of Whitby Noise By-law 292-70, City of Oshawa Noise By-law 112-82, and GO Transit Design Requirements Manual.
  • Northeast Rail Corridor (NEC) Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement, Federal Railroad Administration, Washington DC to Massachusetts (2013) - Acting as Technical Discipline Lead, managed the noise and vibration impact assessment associated with the FRA's Northeast Corridor EIS which was evaluating corridor and service options out to the year 2040. The study included the States of Massachusetts, Rhodes Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Washington DC. Residential and other sensitive receptors were identified from GIS maps and land-use data using the screening distances methods contained in the FRA's 2005 High-Speed Ground Transportation Noise and Vibration Impact Assessment Manual.
  • Baltimore Red Line LRT Project, AECOM, Maryland Transit Authority, Baltimore, MD (2012) - Performed a comprehensive vibration analysis of future Red Line LRT vehicles for potential impacts to sensitive instrumentation and animal experiments housed inside the National Institute of Health laboratory on the Johns Hopkins Bayview campus. Ground propagation and building coupling measurements were performed using a drop weight apparatus, ambient vibration levels were measured proximal to an electron microscope (EM) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine as well areas were animal experiments are performed, and LRT source emission vibration levels were measured for a similar MTA trainset. Future vibration velocity levels were predicted and evaluated against VC-curve criteria contained in the 2006 FTA Manual.
  • MIT Grand Junction Expansion - Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA (2011) – Served as part of a larger team supporting the best interests of MIT in anticipation of the MBTA’s plans to expand the Grand Junction commuter rail line through campus. Ambient noise and vibration levels were measured, and future potential train-related noise and vibration levels were evaluated in accordance with FTA Transit Noise and Vibration Manual impact criteria. Of particular concern were potential impacts to dormitories, research laboratories, and a research nuclear plant located adjacent to the tracks.
  • Brunswick Layover Facility - NNEPRA, Brunswick, ME (2011) – Performed an environmental/community noise and vibration assessment for a proposed Amtrak rail layover facility. Ambient noise and vibration levels were measured, and future Downeaster train operations and layover facility noise sources including HVAC and maintenance equipment were modeled using the Cadna-A model. Project-generated noise and vibration conditions were evaluated in accordance with FTA Transit Noise and Vibration Manual impact criteria.
  • University of Maryland Purple Line Vibration Study – College Park, MD (2009) – Performed a comprehensive vibration impact study to evaluate the possible adverse effects of vibration from a proposed light rail line (Purple Line) on sensitive laboratory instrumentation in use at the University of Maryland.  Ambient vibration measurements were performed on campus inside 16 buildings and near 30 sensitive devices.
  • North Point Acoustical Design, Jones, Lang & LaSalle, Cambridge, MA (2006) – Several acoustical concerns were evaluated associated with a new development (North Point) which includes covering the MBTA Lechmere Station with a huge glass tube enclosure.  Issues included (1) acoustical conditions for passenger comfort inside the glass-covered station, (2) speech intelligibility of the station’s PA system using the Articulation Index, and (3) mitigation of noise from idling Green Line trains and CNG buses affecting two adjacent buildings.
  • MBTA Lechmere Station Relocation EA, Cambridge, MA (2006) – In accordance with FTA procedures, performed existing conditions noise and vibration measurements at two receptor locations and predicted future noise and vibration conditions at a dozen receptor locations in association with the MBTA’s project to relocate the Lechmere Green Line train station.
  • WMATA Distressed Properties Evaluation, Washington, DC  (2005) – Performed noise, vibration and light evaluations of two residences for potential adverse effects from Washington Metro transit train operations.  Measurements were performed both outside and inside the residences with the results reduced and evaluated against a variety of relevant criteria limits such as those promulgated by WMATA, FTA, APTA, HUD, BoM, ANSI Std. S3.29 and Swiss SN 640312.  The results indicated that while WMATA train noise and vibrations may be noticeable inside the residences, the levels did not exceed any criteria limits for annoyance, minor or major structural damage.
  • MBTA Readville Noise Wall Project, Dedham, MA (2003) – Performed final acoustical and structural design for a 1500 foot long rail noise barrier which had been assessed and recommended (by others) as part of the MBTA’s Attleboro Line project.  Noise barrier design criteria, material construction, and expected insertion loss benefits were researched and recommended.  A rail noise model was developed to predict the barrier’s noise reduction benefits at eight residential receptor locations.  The height of the wall (16 to 17 feet) was determined in order to meet the project’s noise reduction criteria goals.
  • New River Rail High-Bridge Project, Tri-Rail, Everett, MA (2003) – In support of a proposed new rail bridge in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, the noise propagation characteristics of a similar rail bridge in Everett, Massachusetts were studied using multiple noise monitors arranged in a traverse pattern at various distances from the bridge.  Lmax and SEL noise levels were measured as MBTA commuter trains traveled over the Mystic River on Bridge No. 7.  The resulting train event noise data was reduced and curve fit in Excel to yield predicted noise levels at any distance of interest.  A comparison was also done between measured noise levels and theoretical noise levels indicating that the elevated bridge structure does affect train noise propagation.
  • NHDOT MBTA Commuter Rail Extension EA, Lowell MA to Nashua NH  (2002)- Performed noise monitoring and noise/vibration modeling for proposed 10mile commuter rail extension project from Lowell, MA to Nashua, NH.  Impact analysis was performed per 1995 FTA Manual guidelines with particular attention to train horns sounding at roadway crossings per the Swift Act using train horn noise models from the FRA.  Findings were assembled in a Comprehensive Environmental Assessment in lieu of an alternatives EIS/R.
  • MBTA North-South Station Link EIR, Frederic R. Harris, Inc., Boston, MA  (1995)- Performed environmental noise and vibration analysis associated with the proposed construction and operation of a three mile underground rail line connecting Boston's North and South Stations.  Existing conditions were documented through the measurement of ambient noise and vibration conditions at sensitive receptors located in the vicinities of three proposed portal openings.  Future anticipated train-operations noise and vibration conditions were predicted at sensitive receptor locations surrounding each of the proposed portal areas using in-house developed versions of the FTA's prediction models.  Construction noise and vibration potential impacts were also evaluated quantitatively using a prototypical mix of construction equipment.  KM Chng Environmental.
  • RTA Reintroduction of Trolleys on Canal Street EIR, DMJM, Inc., New Orleans, LA (1995) – Performed environmental noise and vibration analysis associated with the proposed reintroduction of street car trolley service along Canal Street in New Orleans.  Existing conditions were documented through the measurement of ambient noise and vibration conditions at sensitive receptors locations using a proto-type refurbished PPC Presidential Street Car operated specifically for noise and vibration emission tests.  Future anticipated trolley noise and vibration conditions were predicted at sensitive receptor locations using in-house developed versions of the FTA's prediction models augmented with the proto-typical PPC noise and vibration data.  KM Chng Environmental.
  • Canton Viaduct High Speed Rail EIS, HDR Engineering/MBTA, Canton, MA (1994) - The Canton Viaduct rail overpass is 150 years old and is listed on the National Historic Registry.  As part of an overall rehabilitation study, noise and vibration measurements were preformed to establish ambient baseline conditions.  Site specific analytical (noise) and empirical (vibration) models were developed to predict the environmental consequences and structural impact on the viaduct itself associated with the proposed increased capacity of the viaduct to accommodate high speed rail vehicles traveling upwards of 150 mph.  KM Chng Environmental.
  • North East Corridor Third Track Study, F.R. Harris, Providence, RI  (1994)- Performed noise and vibration environmental study regarding a proposed third track (for freight) to be built along 22 miles of the existing Northeast Rail Corridor.  Field noise and vibration data was used to develop analytical and empirical prediction models.  KM Chng Environmental.