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A harmony of silent European roads

Low-noise road surfaces can help reduce the level of noise pollution endured by local communities. However, some European countries possess little knowledge or expertise in this area, and so can benefit from, and catch up with, those Member States that are further down this road.
A harmony of silent European roads
Road surfacing techniques and technologies vary across the European Union, with particularly significant differences seen between the countries that joined the EU since 2004 and the more established Member States. One such area of divergence is in the use of low-noise road surfacing technologies.

Sound pollution is a major problem associated with roads, particularly main arteries. The sharing and dissemination of know-how and expertise in this area would help not only reduce this source of pollution but improve the quality of life of local communities.

The EU-funded ‘Information network for quiet European road surface technologies’ (Inquest) project sought to facilitate this exchange of knowledge by coordinating the communication and dissemination of past and ongoing research into the use of low-noise road surfacing technologies to European countries with less access to and knowledge of the field.

In this direction, Inquest disseminated a guidance manual developed by the older EU-funded Sustainable road surfaces for traffic noise control (SILVIA) project to countries which were not involved in the original project. This was achieved mainly through workshops targeted at key stakeholders across Europe.

The workshops were generally well attended and participants reacted positively to their contents. This increases the possibility that these sound-reducing technologies will be rolled out more extensively in countries where they are on the whole currently not being used.

There was a general consensus among participants that Europe should move towards issuing harmonised European standards on the noise classification of road surfacing products.

One of SILVIA’s main outputs was to propose an acoustic classification procedure for road surfacing materials and technologies. Inquest sought to take this a step further with its aim of promoting the harmonisation in Europe of testing methods and equipment for this purpose.

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