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The Singing Road of Tijeras

TIJERAS — Sounds emanating from 1,300 feet of roadway just west of Tijeras have been listened to around the world, and it’s more than just tires on pavement catching international attention.

The Singing Road, installed last week, uses rumble strips to play “America the Beautiful” for drivers who obey the speed limit as they cruise down Route 66.

The National Geographic Channel approached the New Mexico Department of Transportation about the project last June, asking if they could construct the road for an upcoming series. The project was privately funded by National Geographic and NMDOT didn’t make – or spend – any money on it. Since the road was finished last week, Melissa Dosher, the public information officer for NMDOT, said she’s fielded questions from television stations as far away as Australia.

map template“My boss thought it was a really cool idea,” Dosher said.”It promotes public safety because the goal is to have people drive the speed limit. Plus it can be an attraction along Route 66.”

In addition to encouraging cars to slow down to hear the tune, Dosher said the rumble strips can help keep sleepy drivers awake as they wind their way through the Tijeras Canyon. The attraction is expected to draw visitors from Albuquerque to the East Mountains for tourism.

“They were looking for something off the interstate, with a speed limit of 45 mph, a long stretch of road instead of curved, with not too old pavement. That stretch had recently been repaved about a year ago,” Dosher explained. “It’s not near any homes so it shouldn’t be distracting for anyone living nearby.”

The song is played as a car’s tires hit grooved metal plates underneath the asphalt. Each plate produces a musical note that come together to play the song. The road is only one of six of its kind in the world and the second in the United States. A road in Lancaster, Calif. plays the “William Tell Overture” and was created by Honda.

“They used a mathematical equation to space the notes out and make it play directly,” Dosher explained. “National Geographic chose “America the Beautiful.” It’s not copyrighted, and it represents Route 66 because the area is really beautiful.”

The attraction was created by Tigress Productions for the National Geographic Channel as part of a new series called “Crowd Control” premiering this November. The series performs experiments designed to test and curate social behavior to gain insight into how and why people behave as they do, according to an NMDOT press release.