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Speed reduction sign.

Route 66 Musical Road

Field review by the editors.

Tijeras, New Mexico

The Route 66 Musical Road was paid for by the National Geographic Channel for its series, "Crowd Control." It was a social experiment to see if people would obey an unpopular law if a reward was offered. The law: a 45 mph speed limit. The reward: a "singing road" that would play a short clip of "America the Beautiful" if drivers obeyed the law.

The highway was heated with giant blowtorches, then a special rumble strip was pressed into the hot asphalt, just inside the white line marking the edge of the road. Audio engineers had designed the strip patterns to produce the individual notes of the song when driven over at the proper speed. The roadwork only took a day, and opened to traffic on October 1, 2014.

The song comes through clearly, but does sound slightly different depending on the size of your tires and vehicle. If you want to record the song, don't hold your phone out the window; all you'll hear is wind noise (And you might drop your phone).

Despite the popularity of the Musical Road, it was never duplicated on the westbound lane, so travelers driving west on Route 66 have to turn around and drive east to enjoy it.

Though the official signs have since been removed, the highway has held up surprisingly well. Maybe if everyone obeyed posted speeds, our roads would last longer.

Also see: Another Musical Road

Route 66 Musical Road

Route 66, Tijeras, NM
West of town. I-40 exit 170, then drive east about 3.5 miles on Hwy 333/Route 66. Between mileposts 4 and 5, shortly after Route 66 crosses to the south side of I-40. The road is only musical driving eastbound. Look for the "pass with care" sign and a spray-painted spot on the road where the music begins. The rumble strip is narrow and easy to miss with your tire.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

X-Ray MuseumX-Ray Museum, Albuquerque, NM - 4 mi.
National Museum of Nuclear Science and HistoryNational Museum of Nuclear Science and History, Albuquerque, NM - 7 mi.
Atomic CannonAtomic Cannon, Albuquerque, NM - 7 mi.
In the region:
Tin Sheet Tombstones, Chilili, NM - 17 mi.

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