TOPSHAM — The town is ready to rumble.
Aiming to mitigate traffic safety issues along Route 196 (Lewiston Road), the Maine Department of Transportation plans this summer to install a rumble strip along much of the stretch from White House Crossing Road to the Lisbon Falls town line.
“We’ve been dealing with complaints from people out on 196 for years,” Town Manager Rich Roedner said April 2, noting that three fatal vehicle accidents have occurred on the western portion of the road in the past year, due to motorists drifting over the center line and into oncoming traffic.
Town staff discussed options to address the issue, and raised the question to MDOT about installing a rumble strip. The timing was good, since the department was already organizing a schedule of rumble strip projects around the state.
“Our stretch of the road meets the criteria that (MDOT is) using, which is the number of crossover accidents, (and) the number of fatal accidents stemming from crossovers,” Roedner said. “So they put us on that list.”
The foot-long strips should create enough vibration and noise to alert drivers to correct their steering and safely return to their lane.
The approximately 3.5-mile project will be entirely paid for by federal funds. Installation could cost less than $7,000 per mile, according to Duane Brunel, a safety engineer with MDOT.
A public hearing on the matter was held March 31. Although more than 200 people saw the meeting posting on Facebook, only three residents attended, Roedner said.
One concern raised was about the noise the strips would create.
The grooves found at toll-booth rumble strips and along interstate highways are shallower than those planned on Route 196, and therefore create less noise, Roedner said.
According to the town, spaces are being left between the strips where cross streets intersect, in areas where passing is allowed, and at driveway entrances, to avoid excess noise.
The cutouts are also shallow enough to keep travel safe for motorcyclists and bicyclists.
Other rumble strips installed around Maine have been quite effective in decreasing the number of head-on collisions, the town noted.
A rumble strip will be installed this summer along the center line of much of Route 196 in Topsham from White House Crossing Road to the Lisbon Falls town line.