Why do clogged porous asphalt pavements give better traffic noise reduction than a dense-graded asphalt pavement?



In Europe, porous asphalt concrete pavements (PAC) are commonly used to reduce traffic noise. Especially the double-layer type (DPAC) provides substantial traffic noise reduction. Unfortunately, PAC pavements compared to dense asphalt pavements have reduced acoustic longevity; the main reason being clogging of the pores and voids, sometimes also more ravelling.

The dense-graded pavements considered here are stone mastic asphalts (SMA, in the US known as stone matrix asphalt) which often have surface macrotexture of the same size as the PAC. The main difference is that the PAC has accessible pores/voids providing sound absorption, while the SMA has practically no porosity.

One would expect that when the pores in the PAC have become clogged while ravelling is not yet substantial, that the noise property of the PAC would approach that of the SMA. But experimental studies suggest that even when PAC:s are effectively clogged, they retain a certain noise reduction compared to SMA:s.

This paper examines this feature of clogged PAC versus SMA and reasons for this unexpected property, for a few Swedish DPAC pavements compared to SMA pavements, with due consideration of possible difference in maximum aggregate size and macrotexture as represented by mean profile depth (MPD) and grading curves.