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Some Pa. roads to soon have rumble strips

May 22, 2001

Some Pa. roads to soon have rumble strips



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro


Pennsylvania Department of Transportation highway safety engineers are carving rumble strips into the pavement on the yellow center lines of some roads to warn sleepy or distracted drivers that they are crossing into oncoming traffic.

In Franklin County, Pa. 997 north and south of Waynesboro and Pa. 16 east and west of Greencastle, Pa., are among the first to get the new strips, said Greg Penney, PennDot spokesman in Harrisburg, Pa. Strips are also being cut into painted white lines at the shoulders.

Rumble strips are those suspension-jarring bumps in the road that tell drivers they are approaching a dangerous intersection or interstate toll booth.

"These are not aggressive cuts," Penney said. "They'll shake you awake, but they won't startle you."

Ronald Jones, safety manager for PennDot's eight-county District Eight in Harrisburg, said the new center-line strips are paying off. The district averages 224 traffic fatalities a year, he said. In 1999, a particularly bad year, 252 persons died on the district's highways. Last year, the numbers dropped to 216, Jones said. He credits the new center-line rumble strips.

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"It's looking pretty good so far," Jones said.

The statewide goal is to cut highway fatalities by 10 percent by the year 2005, Jones said.

Penney said the Pennsylvania Turnpike pioneered the use of rumble strips along both shoulders. They have also been installed along the shoulders of Interstate 81 and other main highways, he said.

PennDot studied accident rates in Franklin County before selecting Pa. 997 and Pa. 316 for the center-line strips, Penney said.

Other safety initiatives planned by District Eight include new energy absorbing guard rails that crumble when hit at the ends. They replace older rails edged with rugged blunt ends that demolished vehicles when hit at high speed. Another type being replaced are those with their ends anchored into the ground at angles. When cars run into them they are often catapulted into the air, Jones said.

"The ends of the new rails are blunt and look imposing but they are twice as safe as the old kind," Jones said.

Pennsylvania routes 233, 641, 997 and 316 will get experimental curve-warning devices this summer, Jones said. Arrows and the written warning "Slow Down" will be painted on the pavement to warn drivers that they are approaching a dangerous curve. The new warnings will augment the large yellow and black arrow signs that follow particularly sharp curves, he said.

PennDot's District Eight covers Franklin, Adams, Cumberland, Perry, Lancaster, York, Lebanon and Dauphin counties.

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