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Musical Road Stunt in Lancaster California Was Built Wrong…Twice

Ever heard of a musical road? It’s a special section of the road that when you drive over it rumble strips play music with your tires. One of these roads is in Lancaster California and we were super excited to give it a drive when we visited. Boy were we disappointed.

None of us are free from making mistakes. Thousands of years ago, Marcus Tullius Cicero said, “Any man can make a mistake; only a fool keeps making the same one.” We shouldn’t expect to be mistake-free, but we should learn from them and try not to repeat them. However, the Musical Road in Lancaster, California, is a prime example of the opposite.

Today, we’re looking at the musical road in Lancaster and why one car manufacturer can’t seem to get it right. Let’s dive in!

2009 Honda Civic Musical Road
The commercial that paid for the musical road

What Is the Musical Road in Lancaster, California? 

There are several musical roads across the country, but today we’re talking about a specific highway in Lancaster, California. This section of the road magically sings when someone drives their vehicle across it.

The City of Lancaster is approximately 70 miles north of Los Angeles. If you want to try it, the section with music-producing capabilities is on Avenue G between 30th and 40th Street.

Honda built the section of the road as part of a 2008 advertising campaign. However, you should always measure twice and cut once. If not, you could make a costly mistake. You can assume that Honda did not follow this advice. Just listen to the song in the commercial, and you will quickly hear that it does not sound good, and we can attest that it sounds even worse than this in real life as we think the video may have retuned it a little.

One commenter even stated “I can only imagine their disappointment when they tried it for the first time. They were probably like “We’ve got to film that again and pretend we are happy with it. Let’s even say ‘it worked!'”

Pro Tip: Go on an epic California road trip along the Angeles Crest Highway: A Driver’s Paradise in the Sky.

How Do Musical Roads Work?

Musical roads utilize a series of grooves designers cut into the road. The size and spacing of these grooves create the changing notes. The grooves make noise when a vehicle’s rubber tires go over them.

They’re similar to the rumble strips that warn drivers they’ve left the road and are nearing the edge. However, musical roads create a distinct and entertaining song compared to standard rumble strips.

Not only do the size and spacing of the grooves require precision, but the vehicle must travel at the correct speed. Musical roads typically post the speed drivers must travel to allow them to enjoy the song.

rumble strips on musical road
Musical roads use the rumble strips to produce sounds that form a song.

What Song Is the Road in Lancaster (Supposed to Be)? 

The Musical Road in Lancaster is supposed to play the William Tell Overture. Due to a miscalculation, the results are disappointing. However, that didn’t stop Honda from airing a commercial of a Honda driving over a section of highway with the perfect sound of the song in 2008.

Many people recognize the William Tell Overture as the theme song for the Lone Ranger on the radio, TV, and movie screen. As a result of its western roots, people commonly use it for videos and other instances involving horses.

Exploring the Honda Civic Musical Road

The Original Musical Highway in Lancaster Was Out of Tune 

The original Musical Road in Lancaster was out of tune. This was primarily due to a miscommunication in the placement of the grooves in the road. There needed to be a groove every four inches for the road to work correctly. The workers placed the tracks four inches, but they didn’t account for the width of the grooves or where to measure the spacing.

While this may not sound like a big deal, the results are a jumbled mess. The results of the workers’ misplacement didn’t include the width of the grooves. This was a critical mistake that rendered the road completely ineffective. 

Pro Tip: Want to take a road trip to a musical highway? Always follow these 5 Old Roadtrip Rules That Still Apply Today on your adventure.

Friends singing on road trip
Don’t expect a perfect tune while cruising down the musical road in Lancaster.

The Road in Lancaster Had to Be Redone

The City of Lancaster loved the idea that the road was bringing visitors to their town. However, residents, especially those close to the road, didn’t love the constant noise it created. As a result of the many complaints the city received, they paved over it and paid to redo it in a more isolated section of the road outside the town.

…And They Got It Wrong AGAIN

Unfortunately, in an almost Three Stooges-like response, the city got it wrong again. Remember that blueprint that had a minor miscalculation resulting in a significant issue? That’s the blueprint they used to create the new version of the road. So not only did Honda waste money initially, but the city wasted additional money, building another wrong musical highway.

Why California's musical road sounds terrible

Are There Other Musical Roads in the U.S.? 

Luckily, the Lancaster Musical Road isn’t the only musical road. While they’re rare, there are a handful of sections of road that sing a song. One of the most famous was outside Albuquerque, New Mexico. However, while this section of highway sang “America the Beautiful” for years, it eventually fell by the wayside due to lack of maintenance. The highway department wasn’t willing to invest the time and energy into preserving it.

If you want to experience a high-quality musical road that does its job, War Eagle Road at Auburn University will do the trick. An engineering alumni from Auburn wanted to give back to the university and designed the road. The result was 154 feet of roadway that sang three seconds of the school’s fight song.

Pro Tip: Looking for more musical roads around the world? Hit the highway and Drive These Musical Roads for the Ultimate Road Trip Soundtrack 

Route 66 Musical Road - Tijeras, New Mexico

Is Driving the Musical Road in Lancaster Worth It?

Unless you have time to kill and are in the area, we don’t recommend going out of your way for this musical road. Because the grooves are off, the experience is not nearly as exciting or fun as you would expect. While we give the concept an A+, we, unfortunately, have to provide them with an F for execution. You’re already paying a premium price for gas or fuel in California, so don’t waste a drop driving up and down this section of the highway.

Have you ever driven on a musical highway? Tell us what song you heard in the comment!

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About Tom Morton

Tom, a Pacific Northwest native, is our technical genius. Born in Washington and raised in Alaska before settling in Michigan. He's the man who keeps our operation running, both figuratively and literally.

With a background in Electrical Engineering, Tom specializes in RV solar systems and lithium batteries. He made history as the first documented individual to use a Tesla battery module as an RV battery. Tom has personally assisted countless RVers with system installations and has educated thousands more through his videos and articles.

Cinematography is another of Tom's passions, showcased in his work on the Go North series. You can see his camera skills on display in The RVers TV show on Discovery Channel and PBS where he also stars as a co-host.

Tom's mechanical expertise extends beyond RVs to boats, planes, and all things mechanical. He's renowned for taking on maintenance and repair projects single-handedly and is often spotted underneath RVs, making him the technical backbone of our endeavors.

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