How can asphalt help reduce noise pollution?

Highway noise is becoming a social issue with which transportation departments have to deal. Most state DOT's will build noise walls under certain circumstances in accord with federal regulations. However, in recent cases in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Arizona affected residents have demanded a change in pavement surface from concrete to quieter asphalt. The United Kingdom purposely surfaces its freeways with asphalt to reduce noise.

Many studies over the years have shown that sound produced at the tire-pavement interface with asphalt pavements lacks the level of annoying frequencies commonly generated from concrete pavement surfaces. Special asphalt surfaces, such as open-graded friction course (OGFC) and stone matrix asphalt (SMA) reduce highway noise at the source even further.

Visit the interactive pavement noise website at

For more information on the issue of reducing tire/pavement noise, see the following references:

  1. article by Wayne Jones, PE, "Highway Noise Control With HMA", printed in Asphalt Magazine, Fall 2002 This article is available on line at
  2. article by P.S. Kandahl, PE, "Asphalt Pavements Mitigate Tire/Pavement Noise", printed in Hot Mix Asphalt Technology Magazine, March/April 2004
  3. NCHRP Synthesis of Highway Practice 268, "Relationship between Pavement Surface Texture and Highway Traffic Noise", R. Wayson, et al, 1998, published by the Transportation Research Board of the National Research Council and available for purchase at
  4. Final Report, "Effects of Pavement Type on Traffic Noise Levels", March 2000, Herman and Ambroziak, Ohio University, Ohio Research Institute for Transportation and the Environment,
  5. Purdue University, Institute for Safe, Quiet and Durable Highways,
  6. Asphalt Alliance website,