Engineers Experiment with Creating Quieter Roads
Adding texture and compounds to pavement could cut tire noise by 3 to 5 decibels.
Road surfaces are probably not something the average driver gives much thought to -- other than when they hit a pothole or two. But most of us have experienced the joy of cruising on a freshly paved road and noticed how quiet it can be -- especially if the surface quickly switches to an older and noisier stretch.
If only all roads could be so smooth and quiet, and we could actually hear the stereo above the buzz of tires on the pavement, or the passenger sitting next to us without shouting. Well, that’s exactly what some road engineers are working on, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Changing the design of pavement surfaces could cut tire noise by 3 to 5 decibels, according to the article. This may not sound like much, but it's enough to make roads noticeably quieter. The reduction is achieved both by giving the pavement a special texture and by mixing certain compounds or materials, such as rubber, into the concrete.
The downside to this approach is the same problem that plagues roads in general: wear and tear degrade the efficacy. Over time, the sound-killing features are worn down and debris fills in the textured part of the pavement. And according to the report in The Wall Street Journal, "quiet roads" can wear out even faster than traditional surfaces.
Regardless, experiments on quieter surfaces are continuing, and test roads are being developed in Arizona, California, Virginia and Washington. But with local and state governments strapped for cash to repair existing roads -- and seeking to turn public highways into toll roads to raise funds for that purposes, as we recently reported -- don’t expect your commute to get a lot quieter any time soon.
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