A40 Highway motorway noise barrier Ruhrgebiet traffic

Motorway A40: behind a noise barrier

The A40 in the Ruhr Area is one of the busiest motorways in Germany. Some call it “Lebensader” (lifeline) as it connects the major cities in the area and is used by many commuters. Others complain about the frequent traffic jams and call it the largest parking lot of the “Ruhrgebiet”.

In total it is 94 kilometres long and runs from Straelen (close to the Dutch border) all the way to Dortmund. The A40 was built as “Ruhrschnellweg” in 1928 during the early years of car traffic. It has been renamed a few times since. Because of the rising numbers of cars after World War II, it was expanded to four lanes in the 1950ies and 1960ies. Yet, currently the traffic situation is close to collapsing. The number and length of traffic jams in the area is constantly rising. Whether this will be changed in the near future is not clear. Expanding public transport and rail cargo might be options.

The traffic noise of the A40 has always been an issue in such a densely populated area as the Ruhr Area. The motorway runs directly through cities like Essen and Duisburg as well as other smaller residential areas. Speed limits and steadily rising noise barriers have been the consequence.

This recording has been made in a residential area in Dortmund right behind a noise barrier. You can hear the constant murmur of the traffic on the motorway with the odd honk. These sounds mingle with the sounds of children playing in a garden right next to the A40. The houses and gardens are only separated from the motorway by a noise barrier.

Photographer: Kathinka Engels
Sound Recordist: Kathinka Engels


77.4 MB
2 min 14 s
2 (Stereo)
Sample rate:
Bit rate:
Bit depth:
96 kHz
4608 kb/s
32 bit

Recorded on April 6, 2018
behind a noise barrier beside the motorway
Dortmund, GERMANY
Creative Commons License