The stretch of Route 66 that travels east out of Albuquerque, New Mexico and heads to the small town of Tijeras is desolate at best. Besides a handful of gas stations and a spider web of power lines that cast their shadows onto the two-lane roadway, there’s not a whole lot to see. But for one quarter-mile stretch, there’s plenty to hear.
Two years ago, the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT), along with the National Geographic Channel, had the idea to make a roadway that sings—literally. Enlisting the help of San Bar Construction Corp., a New Mexico-based company that designs and constructs traffic control devices and signs, NMDOT created a length of roadway between mile markers four and five that plays music whenever a vehicle drives over it. But there’s a catch—the tune, in this case “America the Beautiful,” only works when cars are traveling at exactly 45 mph. The road’s purpose is twofold: to encourage drivers to stay the speed limit and to bring a little excitement to an otherwise monotonous highway.