A Pavement Symphony:
Musical Highways Providing Drivers an Auditory Treat
Fleet service can be a difficult and sometimes lonely job. Drivers are in their vehicles for hours each day, stuck in traffic or, perhaps, driving on a lonely road. As anyone who has ever taken a road trip of any kind can confirm, listening to music to pass the time is the best refuge when behind the wheel. But what if the road itself is producing music?
I’m not talking about those terrible stretches of highways that used diamond grooves and make that one-note, annoying humming sound. No, I mean actual musical highways, specifically designed to produce vibrations that create an audible tune.
It’s true and may be coming soon to a route near you!
According to Popular Mechanics, “anything that vibrates 330 times per second will produce an E-note.” Driving the right speed over the right rumble strips or grooved pavement can produce a recognizable tune.
The first known pavement symphony, the Asphaltophone, was created in Gyling, Denmark in 1995. Using meticulously and precisely placed rumble strips, the road plays The William Tell Overture.
In the U.S., there are currently three such musical roads. The first, the Civic Musical Road in Lancaster, CA uses grooves to produce its highway tune (also a rendition of The William Tell Overture). The road was originally created in 2008 for a Honda commercial – can you guess which model was featured?
In 2014, engineers created a musical road along a stretch of fabled Route 66 near Albuquerque, NM that plays America the Beautiful. You can drive this singing stretch of highway by taking exit 170 while westbound on I-40 and traveling east for 3.5 miles. Just remember the road only sings if you’re traveling east.
Most recently, designers created a stretch of musical road near Auburn University in Alabama. Drivers tooling along South Donahue Drive can hear the Auburn Tigers fight song, War Eagle reverberating in their vehicle.
All told, there are currently at least 46 musical roads across the globe, including Japan, France, Hungary, China, the Netherlands and China, playing tunes such as Mary Had a Little Lamb, Happy Birthday, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and more.
So, the next time you’re out on the road, keep your eyes peeled for a sign like this and your ears open for a surprising tune.