A Glimpse at America’s Musical Roads
It is quite interesting to discover that music is also used for highway road safety, where the instrument used to play a tune is a strip of musical road. The safety aspect is that drivers of vehicles passing through the musical section of a highway, will get to hear the melody in its right tune only if they are driving at the required speed; usually at 45 kmph. Otherwise, the melody will be garbled and less recognizable.
While there are 3 musical roads in the U.S., several others are located in Denmark, China, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, The Netherlands, South Korea, Taiwan and Ukraine. One might ask if their use as speed deterrent is effective, the answer is positive. After all, when the concept was introduced by Denmark in 1995, other countries followed suit. In fact in Japan, there are as many as 30 musical roads scattered throughout the country.
Yet when it comes to producing the right sound, two of the musical roads in the U.S. are not well received, despite the purpose for which they were built.
A Cursory Look at the Musical Roads in the U.S.
There are three musical roads in the U. S.. One in Lancaster, California, another in new Mexico and the latest addition, in Alabama.
The Honda Civic Musical Road
The musical road in Lancaster, California was built by Honda Civic but mainly for the creation of commercial videos and not for speed control. That being the case, cars driving by at any speed will produce a musical sound, although unfortunately not in the right tune. The musical rendition was supposed to be that of the William Tell Overture but due to miscalculations, the music being produced is so out of tune. So much so that the road elicited complaints from the residents in the neighboring area.
The Route 66 Musical Route
The musical road in Route 66 in Tijeras, New Mexico sounded better and relatively more efficient as a speed deterrent. Drivers and passengers of vehicles plying the musical road can distinctly recognize the tune being played as “America the Beautiful,” as long as they maintain their speed at 45 kmph. However, just like any musical instrument, the Route 66 musical road is currently in need of tuning.
The War Eagle Musical Road
The newest addition to the America’s collection of musical roads is located in South Donahue Drive near Auburn University. Hopefully, this new musical road will have a better future than the Route 66 musical road, since the road was installed by Tim Arnold, an engineering alumnus of Auburn University. The project was in collaboration with the University’s Architect and Facilities Management and in coordination with the final three home games of the university’s football team, the Auburn Tigers.
This musical road is designed to play the “War Eagle” fight song of the Auburn Tigers, when welcoming guests, fans and rivals as they approach the campus area. To ensure that the “war Eagle” road will not go out of tune, Arnold used a revolutionary process of coating the road with a surface-application material, as protection against degradation.
How Musical Sounds are Produced by Musical Roads
Motorcycle Larry.com (https://www.motorcyclelarry.com/motorcycle/gear/best-bike-tires/) points out that although tires can also produce sounds when they hit the pavement and when air is released through compression, the melodic sounds in musical roads are achieved by placing rumble strips to create grooves on roads.
However, placements of rumble strips requires accurate and precise calculation so that the musical vibrations upon contact with tires, will produce the right notes making up a musical composition.