Motorists promised quieter road surfaces

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The Independent Online
ROAD surfaces which drastically reduce noise are to be introduced, Kenneth Carlisle, the Roads Minister, said yesterday.

Motorways and trunk roads carrying more than 75,000 vehicles a day would usually be built with hot rolled asphalt over reinforced concrete, or of bitumous-bound flexible construction. Similar techniques would be considered for less busy major routes on a scheme-by-scheme basis.

Bill Thomson, the RAC's highways manager, welcomed the changes, which he said would improve road safety, cut road noise, reduce spray, increase driver comfort and improve fuel consumption.

He added: 'The reduction in noise is equivalent to either halving the volume of traffic or doubling the distance of the observer from the road.'

The attack on the noise problem followed an in-depth review including a study of techniques used in other countries, the Department of Transport said.

Porous asphalt, which costs more and which has been given a trial on the A38 Burton-on-Trent bypass in Staffordshire, will be used in some 'urban and other noise-sensitive areas'.

Mr Carlisle said: 'Noise from road traffic reduces people's enjoyment of their environment. This package of measures will make an important contribution to protecting the environment on both new roads and those we plan to widen.'

The minister said he hoped to make a further announcement in the autumn about improvements to such features as noise barriers and earth mounds.

David Green, director of road transport for the Freight Transport Association, said that although the organisation was concerned about the environmental impact of noise, the Department of Transport 'must recognise its responsibility to accident prevention and actively promote the use of porous asphalt in road construction'.