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This ‘singing road’ was supposed to reduce speeds, instead it drove villagers mad

Government officials in the Netherlands are tearing down their “singing road” after nearby residents were assaulted by the the same song, over and over, echoing across the farm fields of a rural village.

The provincial government of Friesland, at the northern tip of the country, installed a series of rumble strips in the road, each designed to play a note when a vehicle drove over it. Taken together, the 300-metre stretch of rumble strips played the Friesland provincial anthem. But the strips only played the melody correctly if the motorist obeyed the 60 km/h speed limit. If not, “then its horrible,” Friesland spokesman Gerrit Hofstra told the National Post. “It’s not nice to hear.”

The intent was for the singing road to act as a pleasant deterrent for speeding. Problem was, offending drivers were punished with an out-of-tune song once, while innocent neighbours were punished again and again. Officials had no way of turning off the rumble strips at night. So the village of Jelsum was kept awake to the constant anthem, droning on, sometimes in the right key and tempo, sometimes not. One resident called it “psychological torture,” according to BBC News.

“Every night we hear the same melody,” said Hofstra, who lives in the area. “It made more noise than we all thought.”

“Some people couldn’t sleep. Every now and then a car is driving by,” he said. “So people get a bit crazy.”

The strips were installed on Friday, in part because the province had to test rumble strips and paint on the new tarmac anyway. Also, it was seen as a way to celebrate the fact that Leeuwarden, the Friesland capital, was chosen as Europe’s cultural capital this year.

“Last Saturday night the taxis were driving from Leeuwarden to Stiens and on the way back, they tried to go across the lines as quickly as possible and we had the anthem played all night at high speed,” Ria Jansma told Reuters.

“It was very strange,” said Hennie Ferwerda, who answered the phone at an information centre in Leeuwarden. “I was riding on a bike when I passed it. I didn’t know it was existing…. It suddenly began to sing. I thought what was going on?”

The complaints started almost immediately after the strips were installed. At the launch, Hofstra, the government spokesman, said drivers laughed and waved as they passed, while confused locals started asking questions. On Wednesday evening, the government silenced the singing road. It was six days old.

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