Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Quieter Roads

PostedDecember 11, 2005

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Randy Atkins:  Engineers are finding that road noise is dramatically reduced by certain pavements.  Paul Donavan, an acoustical engineer, says his California firm is learning why.  

Paul Donavan:  We do understand some of the mechanisms for quieter pavements.  One of those is the size of the rock in the pavement itself.

Randy Atkins:  Smaller rocks, less noise.  More rubber content also seems to help.  And porous pavements absorb sound.  After re-paving a road with one ultra-quiet material and listening to the sound of cars whizzing by, the engineers…

Paul Donavan:  …measured reductions that were equivalent to like a 12 foot barrier along side the roadway.

Randy Atkins:  So acoustically-engineered pavement may get rid of visual "noise" too.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP Radio.