Rumble Stripe Noise Irks Range Residents

By KBJR News 1

July 6, 2011 Updated Jul 6, 2011 at 6:37 PM CDT

EMBARRASS, MN (Northland's NewsCenter)---Accidents in which drivers are distracted and run off roadways are among the leading causes of death in two lane highways and rural roads.

To help reduce those accidents St. Louis County, District Four adopted a federal rumble stripe program.

Rumble Stripes cover 81 miles of roadside throughout St. Louis County's fourth district.

What originally was constructed as a measure to save lives has evolved into an ongoing debate between district officials and residents.

Questions have been raised about just how beneficial the rumble strips are and is it worth it to disrupt citizens with the level of noise they create when motorists hit them.

"It echos, it seems like just a very loud noise coming into our home, invading our privacy, waking us up," Reva Tyssedal, a resident of Embarrass who lives off of Highway 21 said.

Fourth District Commissioner Mike Forsman says the county is doing all it can to find a middle ground between pleasing residents and keeping drivers safe.

"We are trying to identify all of the spots where there are serious complaints from home owners near by for the noise," Forsman said.

The district has begun to fill in the rumble strips on both sides of County Road 77.

District officials say the plan is to fill in the inside corners and other warranted areas of County Road 22 and 116."

St. Louis County received nearly $1 million in federal dollars to fund the program under the agreement to match 10 percent.

The county has spent nearly $280,000 so far.

"There is a fear, and it is a just fear, that if we filled them all in, we might have to pay back that federal dollars at a time when it would have to be made up by property tax dollars," Forsman said.

But the decision to leave the stripes in place along many straight–away sections of roadways has left many residents unhappy.

"I'm upset with it and I think its time they do something with the straight–aways too because it is bothering," Tyssedal said.

Meanwhile the government shutdown has halted the filling process for now, but district officials say they plan to continue filling in warranted areas once the government returns to work.

District officials say the areas chosen for rumble strips were based on use of the roadway and typical speeds on those sections of road.

Posted to the web: Jennifer Walch