Rumble Strips Installed In Highland County – Part 1

Motorists passing east and west on Route 250 in Highland County recently have been experiencing new vibrations – and not necessarily good vibrations. Rumble strips have been installed down the middle of a majority of the roadway, and I spoke with the Virginia Department of Transportation to find out more.

“My name is Susan Hammond. I work for the Virginia Department of Transportation in the Lexington Residency, which covers Highland, Bath, Allegheny, and Rockbridge counties, and my title is Residency Administrator.”

“There’s a statewide effort to use these rumble strips as an opportunity to help reduce single vehicle run-off the road and crossing the center line crashes. This is a Federally funded project – there’s a lot of information, a lot of studies that have been done, that show that they can significantly reduce these types of crashes by anywhere from about 30 to 60%. And the neat thing about it is that it uses both vibration and sound to get the drivers attention. You know, we have a lot of issues with distracted driving, so anything that we can do to help keep the drivers attention, and let them know when they’re exiting a lane, that’s really important.”

She continued, “So we’re finally at the point now where we’re starting to do some of these installations within our district, which is the Staunton District and Highland County is included in that area. And the routes that we’re looking on doing this, we’re trying to do it with a systematic approach. If you’ve driven on the interstate, you know that we’ve had rumble strips on the interstate for years, and they’ve proven to be a wonderful tool for safety, to make sure that people know when they’re departing the roadway. So we’re using that same concept now on our primary routes, which in Highland County is Routes 250, 84 and 220. But we’re not installing all of those at the same time – we’re trying to follow our paving schedules, so that we put the rumble strips into pavement that’s in good condition. So if we recently paved, then likely, you’re going to see the rumble strips to be added later, usually within about six to 12 months of when the paving has occurred, because it’s done through a separate contract. And then, as we’re installing those throughout the district, we’ll be coming back and sealing all of those. And it’s going to be kind of sealed in the same way that they were put in, and then we’ll come back and re-stripe everything too.”

“There’s another advantage to doing the rumble strip too. When the striping occurs, if it rains, or in the dark, you can see a contrast in there, so that the stripe stands out a little bit more in rainy conditions.”

She went on to explain, “So the goal for our district is to have rumble strips on all of the primary routes that closely follow our paving schedule, and as our funding permits. And we’re only looking at installing those in areas where the speed limit is at least 45. So we’re not going to be installing them in lower speed limits, because generally we have a lower crash rate in those areas.”

“And just to give you an example, if you look at Route 84, over the last five years, there have been 24 crashes, and of those crashes, 17 have been a “fixed object off the road”, which means the vehicle has gone off the road, and crashed into something along the roadway. On Route 220, there have been 50 accidents, and 23 of those have been fixed objects off the road. On 250, west of Monterey, there were 63 crashes, and 47 of them were fixed objects off the road. And on 250 east of Monterey, there have been 26 accidents, and 25 of those were fixed objects off the road.”

“So our goal is really to minimize these types of crashes and make the roadway condition a little bit safer for everybody. And we have a lot of things that distract drivers while they’re behind the wheel, and it’s just really important for our mission to reduce the number of crashes that we have, and this is a really inexpensive way to do it.”

Stay tuned for Part Two of this story.

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Current Weather