What’s up with that weird sound on I-96?

Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — If you drive the recently rebuilt lanes of I-96 on Grand Rapids’ east side, you may have noticed an odd hum.

The sound in the eastbound lanes between I-196 and M-21 is like a symphony tuning up or perhaps a moan.

“It’s not anything to be worried about,” Michigan Department of Transportation spokesman John Richard said. “It just sounds weird.”

Richard explained that when crews lay the asphalt for the highway, it contains grooves. In warmer weather, car tires wear down those grooves before anyone notices the noise.

“When it’s cold out, those grooves kind of stay a little bit longer than they usually do, and that’s why it’s making that humming noise,” Richard said. “…A lot of concrete pavement makes those noises. Sometimes those high-friction surface coatings almost kind of scream at you. But asphalt is usually pretty darn quiet, but this one hums a little bit.”

He said that with temperatures expected to near 50 later this week the asphalt serenade should come to an end.

Construction in the area has wrapped up for the year, but a project to upgrade the I-96/I-196 interchange will resume next summer.

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