From A To B: Making Our Roads...quieter? (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

Transcripts

From A to B: Making Our Roads... Quieter?

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

13:13:34
Outside the box thinking can happen anywhere really and applied to just about anything. Take for instance the USB pet rock or the electric music synthesizer shirt. Seriously, these things do exist. We saw them on the Internet so it must be true.

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

13:13:51
But in this next story, we'll hear about some people in Virginia who went outside the box and created something that could change, well, not the face of our highways, but the sound of them. It's our weekly transportation segment "From A To B."

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

13:14:12
So take a moment, if you will, and think about quiet. But then, I mean, what is quiet really, you know? Is it one of our least favorite things here at "Metro Connection," dead air? Is it the proverbial crickets?

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

13:14:30
Well, for the folks at the Virginia Department of Transportation, also known as VDOT, quiet sounds more like this.

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

13:14:42
What you're hearing are cars whizzing by on the Prince William County Parkway just outside of Manassas. A few months ago, VDOT coded this parkway with a new type of pavement that supposed to absorb more sound so the road is therefore quieter.

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

13:14:57
VDOT is testing this new homemade pavement on three more roads. Transportation reporter, David Schultz, headed out to the Prince William County Parkway with Robert Wilson, VDOT's pavement management engineer to find out how this stuff works.

MR. ROBERT WILSON

13:15:12
Well, first of all we call this PFC, a Porous Friction Course. Basically, what you have is a skeleton type structure on this type of pavement and it's a lot of rock on top of rock with nothing in between. Just asphalt between the rocks. And it's porous so it's supposed to absorb some of that sound, you know, the shock of the sound coming into is supposed to -- just like a sponge, you know, keep it from going out into the area around us.

MR. DAVID SCHULTZ

13:15:46
Now, I have to say we're standing right next to the road here. It doesn't sound a whole more quiet than any road I've been near. What's the deal here? Is there something I'm missing?

WILSON

13:15:58
Well, what you're hearing is the echo effect from the trucks. What the pavement is testing is the noise between the tire and the surface of the road where the wheel and the road meet. So that's the only reduction you're going to get from Porous Friction Course for quiet pavement.

SCHULTZ

13:16:19
So the sound of the cars is still going to be as loud as they ever were but the sound of the tires hitting the road, that's what's going to be different?

WILSON

13:16:29
I think it's impossible to reduce the noise level on the vehicles themselves. The only thing we can effect with the road surface is the tire, where the road and the tire meet, you know, it's what all matters anyway right?

SCHULTZ

13:16:45
So why is this important? Why do we need to reduce the sound of the tire hitting the road? What will this do for people who live near a road or for drivers themselves?

WILSON

13:16:56
Well, I think some of the research from what I have been observing and how everything's been arranged is to try to reduce the necessity of building more sound walls, you know, the big concrete slab sound walls. And hopefully you can replace that with more shrubbery instead of a concrete wall and with the reduced noise levels on the surface you can, you know, avoid the added expenses of building those sound walls. Probably a variety of ways of looking at how it will effect construction going down the road.

SCHULTZ

13:17:40
So I guess the answer is new types of pavement, quieter pavement plus shrubbery equals, you know, a totally different road.

WILSON

13:17:49
Right, yes, you know, you got to take them all into account when you're trying to reduce the noise levels. The thing that I think they want to try to do with quiet pavement is to reduce the number of sound walls that we have construct because, I mean, it's a huge expense and if you can get away with putting trees and shrubbery in place of sound walls, I mean, that's a plus.

SCHULTZ

13:18:13
Is this being used anywhere else in the country?

WILSON

13:18:16
Well, the quiet pavement is a research project so I'm not familiar with other states using it. I know that we have three projects in Virginia.

SCHULTZ

13:18:28
So Virginia's sort of on the cutting edge here in terms of using this type of pavement?

WILSON

13:18:32
I would say we are on the cutting edge at least I'm reminded that we are many times by other colleagues throughout the state so.

SCHULTZ

13:18:41
Yes, some people might say well pavement is sort of pavement. I mean, it's tough to improve on something that's just sort of, you know, lay on the ground. You don't really think about it, I mean, this is like inventing a better mousetrap here or is there really room for improvement on the asphalt that we use?

WILSON

13:18:57
I wouldn't put it in terms of creating a better mouse trap because, you know, pavement is what it is, you know, you just want to use it to get from point A to point B. How you get there, you know, is important to us. It may not be as important to you or, you know, the average driver taking the road every day but there are always certain safety aspects that can be improved and I think the quiet pavement Porous Friction Course is, you know, do that.

SHEIR

13:19:31
That was pavement management guru, Robert Wilson, of VDOT talking with Transportation reporter, David Schultz. If you've driven on this new asphalt in Virginia we want to know, was it actually a quieter ride? Tell us about your experience by sending an email to metro@wamu.org. Or visit us on Facebook. That's facebook.com/metroconnection.org.

SHEIR

13:20:01
Time for a quick break. But when we get back, keeping it fresh and local in a booming suburban community. We go inside Montgomery County's agricultural reserve.

MALE 1

13:20:12
Well, there are tradeoffs. I mean, there are costs. There are things that you're sacrificing when you're preserving that land that way.

SHEIR

13:20:20
That and more in a minute on "Metro Connection" here on WAMU 88.5.
Transcripts of WAMU programs are available for personal use. Transcripts are provided "As Is" without warranties of any kind, either express or implied. WAMU does not warrant that the transcript is error-free. For all WAMU programs, the broadcast audio should be considered the authoritative version. Transcripts are owned by WAMU 88.5 FM American University Radio and are protected by laws in both the United States and international law. You may not sell or modify transcripts or reproduce, display, distribute, or otherwise use the transcript, in whole or in part, in any way for any public or commercial purpose without the express written permission of WAMU. All requests for uses beyond personal and noncommercial use should be referred to (202) 885-1200.