If you live near a noisy road or highway, help is on the way: The Virginia Department of Transportation is studying quiet pavement technologies. And according to an interim report to the General Assembly, new pavement surfaces deployed in demonstration projects near Williamsburg and in Leesburg “were “noticeably quieter” on average.
If the noise reductions are of sufficient magnitude, VDOT may be able to avoid the expense of building concrete sound barriers in some instances.
When vehicles travel faster than 35 miles per hour, the interaction of tires and pavement generates considerable noise. Decibels vary according to the texture, porosity and stiffness of the pavement. Open-graded or porous asphalt is known to have the optimum combination of properties that can deliver a quiet pavement. VDOT has avoided using that class of materials because the pavement was more prone to catastrophic failure. However, recent advances have addressed durability issues in asphalt, and the concrete pavement industry has developed diamond grinding and grooving techniques to provide lower-noise alternatives for finishing concrete pavements.
The Quiet Pavement Task Force selected three asphalt surfaces materials and two mechanically applied finishes to concrete pavement. Five pilot tests were performed to verify the lower noise levels and to see what impact the surfaces would have on durability, safety (skid resistance) and ride quality under a variety of weather conditions.
A final report will be issued June 30, 2013.