Residents along Route 5 are hearing rumbles, and it isn’t thunder.
Supervisor Chris Koetzle said some neighbors are concerned about the noise from rumble strips the Department of Transportation installed last year along the center line of a stretch of Route 5 near the Glenville Business and Technology Park. The strips are grooves that are designed to alert motorists that they are drifting over into the opposite lane.
One resident asked the Town Board to pass a resolution calling on DOT to remove the rumble strips. However, Koetzle said the DOT has a policy to place these rumble strips along the center line on state highways with a speed limit of 45 mph or more. The town defers to DOT officials’ judgment. “Although we sympathize with the noise issue, we are not in position to suggest to the DOT what’s safe and what’s not,” he said.
As an alternative, Koetzle plans to write DOT and contact local legislators to seek to reduce the speed limit on that road to 40 mph. If that were the case, it would no longer meet the criteria for the rumble strips.
State DOT spokeswoman Carol Breen said the rumble strips were installed toward the end of last summer. Improving safety was the main concern.
“Center line rumble strips have been used in other states and have shown to be a great deterrent for some of the deadliest kind of accidents — head-on accidents, when somebody drifts over the line,” she said.
The strips are special grooves that go right along the yellow lines. It helps remind motorists to stay in their lane, according to Breen.
“Their tire hits it and it makes a very, very loud noise and it shakes the vehicle a little bit,” she said.
Breen said there have been some crashes along that stretch of Route 5 but it isn’t necessarily a high-accident location.
DOT doesn’t install rumble strips on an existing surface, but they are done as part of a paving project. Rumble strips are installed typically on more rural roads with speeds of 45 mph and greater and wouldn’t be placed anywhere where there are frequent left turns and people would be driving over them constantly.
Breen said there have been a few complaints from residents about the noise and DOT officials visited the location. “When we monitored it, it did not seem to be above average noise levels,” she said.
In most cases, she said, after the rumble strips have been in for a while, the noise isn’t as much of an issue as drivers get used to them and are less likely to cross the center line.
Breen said she couldn’t speculate on whether the strips would be removed if the speed limit were lowered.