Saturday, August 21, 2010

Residents rumbling about noisy highway stripes and more are coming,7352

By Marshall Helmberger

New rumble stripes along County Road 21, between Ely and Babbitt. The noise generated by the stripes has upset rural residants along a number of county roads in the area.

A new safety measure implemented along several rural highways in St. Louis and Lake counties is creating a bit more of a rumble than county officials may have intended.

Residents along county roadways that have been modified with what are known as “rumble stripes” are complaining loudly that the continuous stripes of gouged pavement have changed their normally quiet, rural neighborhoods into irritating and noisy places.

“The noise was instant,” stated Gary and Roberta Skogman, of rural Tower, in a recent letter to the editor of the Timberjay. “Before the rumble stripe gouging machine was out of sight, we knew our lives would never be the same,” wrote the Skogmans, who live along County Road 77, near Lake Vermilion.

The Skogmans are not alone. County officials acknowledge that the installation of the stripes on about 81 miles of county roadway earlier this year has generated plenty of criticism. “My first call was from my brother and he didn’t mince words,” said County Commissioner Mike Forsman.

Vic Lund, acting traffic engineer for St. Louis County, said he’s had about 60 phone conversations with residents, most of whom were upset by the stripes.

Residents along the affected highways say the location of the stripes, directly along the white fog line, has greatly increased the frequency of noisy impacts. The problem is particularly troublesome along curves, since drivers often stray outside of the white line on sharper curves. That’s one of the problems for the Skogmans, since their home is located near a highly-traveled S-curve on County Road 77. “Anyone with a boat trailer, they’re going to hit it all the time,” said Gary Skogman. “On the curves, it seems every third or fourth car hits it,” he added. “It’s like a plane taking off when they they do.”

Lund argues that the noise complaints are based more on perception than reality. He said a MnDOT noise study found that the decibel reading from a car hitting the stripes was equivalent to that of a truck on the highway. Still, Lund acknowledges that the higher frequency of the sound emanating from the rumble stripes may appear louder to human ears than the lower frequency of more typical traffic sounds. “It appears to our ears that it’s louder, even though it isn’t really,” he said. “I’m not discounting that they hear the noise. But the claim that this noise is worse than other traffic sounds is proven false. I’ve got the data to prove it.”

(Read more at:,7352)


  1. Anonymous2:12 PM

    This is one of those tough issues. If accidents occured before the sound stripes, people would be calling for safety measures.

    Now that the safety measures are in place, the neighborhood complains of noise.

    I guess what is more important? Some noise, or the safety?

    Sometimes a tough call.

  2. Yes me too if was heard a noise it got my concentrations too i would feel same way too if i were them.

  3. Anonymous10:28 AM

    The unfortunate thing this shows is the poor driving skills. I too sometimes hit the rumble strips but to be honest I have to admit that it is either inattention, distraction or sheer laziness that allows me to wander. I suggest everyone make an effort to improve their driving which will reduce the noise but allow the safety benefit to remain.

  4. This shows also luck of discipline by thoise who drive their vehicle.