Rumblings on the North Shore

Rumble StripThe recent addition of rumble strips along Highway 61 has prompted many residents who live within earshot of its corridor to express opposition to the noisy safety devices. Letters have been written, articles have been published, commissioner meetings have been attended.
 
 
When concerned citizens contacted Mn/DOT about the use of these strips on Highway 61, they received the response that is reprinted below.
 
Boreal offers this space as a place for interested and concerned citizens to weigh in and constructively discuss the issue. Please review Boreal's comment and discussion policy before posting.
 
Response from MN/DOT:
Thank you for the feedback regarding the installation of centerline rumble
strips along the Highway 61 corridor.  The Minnesota Department of
Transportation (MnDOT) District One has received numerous phone calls and
letters in the past few days about implementation of centerline rumble strips
on the Highway 61 corridor from Two Harbors to Canada.  Centerline rumble
strips have been implemented throughout our District, including the most
recent installation between Grand Marais and Canada.
In general, the complaints can be summarized as follows:
*         Centerline rumble strips are hit by cars more frequently than edge
line rumble strips because
      passing cars have to cross them.
*         The noise caused by the hit is abrupt and unexpected verses normal
highway noise.
*         The noise can be heard more than 1 mile away.
*         The noise echoes from the ridge and across the lake.
*         Because the installation provides gaps at entrances, which are
frequent in some areas, it
      appears random rather than systematic.
 
In 2003, because of the rising trend of fatal crashes in Minnesota, MnDOT, in
partnership with the Department of Public Safety and the Department of
Health, began working together aggressively to reduce fatal and serious
injury crashes on our highway system.  This program, called Towards Zero
Deaths (TZD), uses a multi-disciplinary, data-driven approach.  As part of
this effort, we identified road departure crashes as an area of focus. This
is because over half of all fatal crashes, on rural two-lane roads, were the
result of people departing from their travel (i.e. running off the road,
hitting someone head-on or sideswiping them). During the past 10 years,
Minnesota highway deaths have declined from 655 to 395.  Had we not been able
to reverse the rising trend in 2003, over 2,000 more lives would have been
lost in Minnesota.  This success is due, in part, to implementation of
systemic improvements in engineering, enforcement, education and emergency
services; partnerships created at county and community levels; and vehicle
safety improvements.
 
Last year, MnDOT has implemented a policy to install centerline rumble strips
on rural two lane highways.  While many areas around the state have already
implemented rumble strips, this project in District One is one of our first.
Many other states across the country have implemented similar policies
including Michigan, Missouri and North Dakota. The objective of the policy is
to guide the installation of low cost, high benefit, systematic safety
improvements on the rural two lane roads in Minnesota.  Research has shown
that center line rumble strips can reduce all crashes by 5% - 14% and head on
crashes between 20%-40%!  Rumbles are one of the most effective traffic
safety measures we can implement given that 50% of all crashes in Minnesota
occur on rural two lane roads and 50% of those crashes are lane departure
crashes.  From 2010 to 2012 on the Trunk Highway (TH) 61 corridor from Two
Harbors to Canada, 48.8% of crashes are lane departures for a total of 209
crashes; 35 (16.7%) were run off the road (ROR) left; 63 (30.1%) were ROR
right; and 4 (1.9%) were head on.  Reducing these crashes saves lives and
reduces the number of people whose lives have been changed forever after a
crash.
 
The rumble strips were installed in accordance with MnDOT's policy on rumble
strips and rumble stripEs found at:
(http://dotapp7.dot.state.mn.us/edms/download?docId=1055001).  The rumble
strips were installed in areas where the speed limit is posted at 55 mph. 
 
The MnDOT policy allows 400 foot gaps in the rumble strips at entrances.  The
implementation of this policy has resulted in no rumble strips when entrances
are within 600 feet of each other.  The following link provides additional
information about rumble strips:
http://www.dot.state.mn.us/trafficeng/safety/rumble/index.html.
 
I acknowledge your concerns regarding the installation of rumble strips along
the Highway 61 corridor and ask for your patience.  In August, we see some of
the highest traffic volumes on the corridor which contributes to more
frequent passing maneuvers.  Over the next year, MnDOT will be experimenting
with a new "quieter" rumble design and will also be looking at other design
modifications to address your concerns. Also, we will further study the noise
levels to better understand if the unique terrain along the shoreline is
contributing to the issue.
 
In addition, I ask that you see how the new rumbles improve the safety of
your driving the corridor during the winter months. You should notice that
the yellow center line will be very visible during wet weather conditions
because the stripe is now within the rumble and vehicle headlights will
better reflect light back to the driver. While this benefits everyone, it
especially helps older drivers and young, less experienced drivers. Another
benefit you may find is increased visibility during snow storms.  Many
motorists, including our own plow drivers, have found that the rumbles help
guide them during these poor conditions.
 
MnDOT is committed to improving safety of the Minnesota's roadways. 
Implementation of this policy is one way that we can reduce the number of
life changing crashes.  Your feedback will help refine MnDOT policy direction
and implementation of highway safety improvements.  If you have additional
questions or concerns you can contact Jim Miles, District 1 Assistant Traffic
Engineer, at 218-725-2789 or
james.miles@state.mn.us.
Sincerely,
Duane R. Hill, P.E.
District Engineer
MnDOT District One