As we drive to and from work these days, we're often caught gawking at the equipment used to widen and reconfigure the tollway around our offices. Even though the phrase "gaper's block" enters the mind, it's difficult not to be distracted by the machines moving dirt or laying pavement.
At some points along this particular stretch of roadway, the Toll Authority is erecting noise walls to protect the adjoining residential areas. For those living in houses here, and even for us inside the vehicles, pavement noise contributes to the ever-increasing din of urban life.
Noise walls can only reduce the overall noise levels, however; they cannot completely block it. And they have to be high and solid in order to do even that.
Road noise rivals congestion as a concern for users, municipalities and states, and residents. It's going to happen every time you put speed and volume together with rubber coming in contact with pavement.
Concrete-paver manufacturers know they can help contribute to noise-reduction efforts. Machine design and technologies, some highlighted in this month's Buying File, allow highway contractors to meet increasing demands for smooth pavements.
Contractors know that pavement smoothness can pay off in performance bonuses or, in the other case, result in penalties. States and other roadway owners increasingly rely on technologies to measure road smoothness and are writing smoothness levels into contracts.
Other technology and techniques will become available to help road-builders add noise reduction to their list of performance targets. For those attending World of Concrete later this month in Las Vegas, such items should be on the to-do lists.
Trade shows provide excellent opportunity to talk about such issues. Ask equipment manufacturers what they're doing about pavement noise and how you can attack the problem back home. Ask your colleagues what they're seeing, too.
This issue will not go away. The equipment user who can provide solutions will be highly sought after as pavement noise continues to force its way to the front of the public's consciousness.