2017-01-13 / Community

Are you ready to rumble (strip), Arundel?

MDOT plans installation of rumble strips along Route 1 this summer
By Wm. Duke Harrington Staff Writer

ARUNDEL — Starting this summer, motorists on Route 1 in Arundel had better not get out of line.

That’s because the Maine Department of Transportation intends to put in rumble strips, along Route 1, from Old Post Road to Fritz’s Lane.

The rumble strips will be much like the indentations seen on Interstate 95 and other major highways.

According to Denis Lovely, a project manager with MDOT’s highway program, construction will take place this summer. The job is currently out to bid, with start and end dates for the work to be announced once a contractor is selected.

The plan is to install the strips, designed to give drivers an audible alert that they have strayed out of their travel lane, along the shoulder of either side of the highway, and along the centerline where the speed limit is 45 mph, or greater.

“The Maine Department of Transportation takes safety very seriously,” wrote Assistant Highway Program Manager Steve Bodge, in an email to Arundel Town Manager Keith Trefethen. “Rumble strips are a proven method to minimize or eliminate head-on and fatal collisions.”

According to MDOT, a comparison of six years before and after a pair of 2006 rumble strip installation projects along Route 1 in Woolwich — the first use of the technology off the interstate — saw a 52 percent reduction in crashes (from 21 to 10), and a 100 percent reduction in fatalities (from eight to zero).

MDOT says Maine sees about 800 head-on crashes per year, claiming roughly 40 lives annually. About 70 percent of those crashes are caused by cars fading from their travel lane into oncoming traffic.

For the years 2015 to 2018, MDOT is on track to install about 390 miles of non-interstate rumble strips across the state, according to a November 2016 presentation by Maine Motor Transportation Association Safety Officer Duane Brunell. According to the Federal Highway Administration, rumble strips can cost up to $1.20 per linear foot, or $6,000 per mile, to install.

“They’re going to do it no matter what, but they would like to come down and make a public presentation,” Trefethen told Arundel selectmen at the Jan. 9 meeting.

Some selectmen already have thoughts they’d like to convey to MDOT.

“That hill just before Fritz’s is a blind hill,” board Chairman Velma Hayes said. “They really should bring the rumble strip all the way down past the Arundel Cottages development, where it’s 40 mph.”

“If you’re going toward Biddeford and just starting up that hill, you cannot see traffic coming. And, if you’re coming from Biddeford, you think you can see everything until you realize there’s a car right there,” Hayes added. “I was going through there one day when some idiot passed me there going toward Biddeford, liked to kill us both.”

“Sorry about that,” Selectman Dan Dubois joked, “You were going too slow.”

Some selectmen note that residents in the area may complain about the noise created by cars continually running across the new warning system. But audience member Jack Reetz had a ready answer for that.

“I would wonder if they really object to the noise of a rumble strip as compared to the noise of a head-on crash,” he said.

“Don’t worry, people will complain,” Dubois said.

Last fall, New Hampshire removed a centerline rumble strip along Route 3A in Plymouth due to noise complaints filed my nearby residents.

Trefethen said he would try to schedule MDOT’s presentation for a selectboard meeting in February.

Staff Writer Duke Harrington can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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