Road construction isn't usually something to get excited about, but what if those resurfacing projects were also making roads quieter? While increased traffic has turned some roads into aural nuisances, engineers are working to reduce tire noise by changing the design of pavement surfaces.

According to The Wall Street Journal, new pavement surfaces have the potential to cut tire noise by three to five decibels, which is enough to make roads noticeably quieter. Among the techniques used are giving the pavement a texture and mixing different substances, like rubber, into the concrete. The problem with these approaches, however, is that over time their effects are mitigated by wear and tear. Dirt clogs the textured pavement, and the quiet roads can wear out more prematurely than standard surfaces, according to the report.

Experiments continue, however, with test roads deployed in Arizona, California, Virginia and Washington state. In Europe, legislation has even been passed to require cities to use quieter pavement to reduce noise, according to the report.


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  • 52 Comments
      Chuck Clarke
      • 2 Years Ago
      I drive an enclosed auto transporter (read fancy 18-wheeler) and have been to all 48-lower states and most of Canda, including the Yukon and NWT, usually average around 125-150,000 miles a year. I feel I'm somewhat of an expert on the interstate highway system and its condition. I'm not so much concerned about the noise as about a smooth surface. I was on I-40 today in Arizona from New Mexico to Yucca (26 miles from California), and I don't think there was more than 5 miles at a time that wasn't full of ruts, potholes, dips, you name it. I know everything gets exagerated in a big truck vs. car, but I noticed a lot of the cars were slowing down due to the very poor road surfaces. Most of the roads in this country are in bad shape. I've always said that if it wasn't for air-ride suspension in the trailer that the cars would be demolished by the time I delivered them.
      ayeco
      • 2 Years Ago
      I think a lot of you are missing the point. It's not about making it quiet inside the car, but outside. I'm not really a tree huger, but noise pollution and light pollution both need to be payed closer attention to. One interesting thing here, though, is that some people want noise makers on electric cars so you can hear them coming while others would like things to quiet down.
      joe shmoe
      • 2 Years Ago
      There's always a compromise. I would rather have noise than waste tax dollars are roads that are not durable. As long as the roads are durable and don't hurt my mpg, I'm fine. Crappy tires cause noise more than any other reason.
      Robert Fahey
      • 2 Years Ago
      Carpeted highways? Sounds good. And the tack strip along the edges would punish inattentive drivers.
      Scr
      • 2 Years Ago
      They already have roads that do this, they are comprised of a pourous asphalt system. Larger agreagate is bonded with a modified polymer binder leaving large airspaces between the pieces of aggreagate. This allows for the noise to dissapate within the pavement. It also allows water to drain through the pavement system meaning safer roadways in rainstorms and the prevention of ice in the winter.
      _Wa2
      • 2 Years Ago
      Wouldn't quieter roads provide us with even more road kill?? I could be wrong though...
      jw
      • 2 Years Ago
      If the people who love to run studded tires when it's not even below freezing at night would be more responsible we wouldn't have such crappy roads in WA state
      Kahz
      • 2 Years Ago
      ...When will we get flying cars?
      ammca66564
      • 2 Years Ago
      I shudder to think what'd happen to one of these nice roads here in Chicago with salt, plows and freeze thaw cycles . . . .
      design eye
      • 2 Years Ago
      This noise issue reminds me of something I experienced in Italy. On the ring road around Turin, they experimented with low-spray surfacing that was incredibly successful. In heavy rain, the spray from trucks would nearly blind you. As soon as you hit the experimental surface it died completely away. It's good to hear of engineering progress in noise and safety, but I'm sure the cement lobby in Michigan will overrule any of these improvements.
      Karsten Marcelo
      • 2 Years Ago
      Im pretty sure quieter roads would also lead to a decrease in fuel economy for cars that drive on it. At least if they are doing it by using soft compounds. Maybe the difference in fuel economy isn't big enough for it to matter?
      BG
      • 2 Years Ago
      If people would buy narrower smaller-diameter tires than the common wide "performance" tire you often see today, they would experience a lot quieter ride in mosty cars/crossovers.
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