The paper examines the methodologies and evaluation criteria advocated by the U.S. Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Federal Rail Administration (FRA) used to determine whether or not a proposed alignment for a transportation project adversely impacts affected land uses, such as research & development and high-technology manufacturing. The criteria in question are applied as limits on vibration and noise at sensitive receiver locations. Both short-term construction and long-term transportation operations are typically considered, with the latter being the focus of this paper. A case study is presented of a proposed transit system that passes through four different soil zones, the operational characteristics that are required to generate a vibration level equal to the FTA/FRA advocated level of 65 VdB re: 1 micro-inch/sec, and the range of variability of the acceptability of the vibration conditions when considered in terms of third-octave bands compared to vibration criterion (VC) curves that are used as the design performance targets of vibration-sensitive facilities.
The paper presents a review of generic vibration criteria used for vibration-sensitive technical facilities. The paper reviews the logic behind and evolution of the Vibration Criterion (VC) curves, originally known as the "BBN" criteria, and discusses the background of a generic criterion in common usage for nanotechnology, currently denoted NIST-A. The criteria are compared with representative types of research equipment and activities.