By Alex Lippa
---- — The New Hampshire Department of Transportation plans to add “rumble strips” to heavily traveled Route 125 between Plaistow and Rochester.
Rumble strips are ridged segments of pavement that cause a car’s tires to vibrate audibly. Placed alongside travel lanes, they alert inattentive or sleepy drivers who start to drift off the roadway.
Ronald Grandmaison, project manager for DOT’s Bureau of Highway Design, said he has begun talking to town officials and holding public hearings on the proposal.
“So far most of the response has been positive,” he said. “My intent is to go to public informational meetings and hear from residents and public officials.”
Grandmaison held his first meeting in Epping on Tuesday and plans another in Plaistow at the end of the month.
Plaistow Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald said he favors rumble strips on Route 125.
“Anything that can help save lives is worth considering,” he said. “This is one of many strategies of investing in infrastructure that would do that.”
The strips would start just north of Old County Road and continue about 50 miles to Rochester, with some interruptions. They would not be placed along the retail strip in Plaistow, for example.
“Primarily, they are used to deal with distracted and drowsy drivers,” Grandmaison said. “If they leave their lane then they can be alerted so they go right back to where they were traveling.”
Grandmaison said rumble strips also help keep drivers steer straight at night.
“When there is a long stretch of highway, where a lot of people drive at night, then you have some glares, which can make it tough to drive,” he said. “This will provide a little security.”
Rumble strips can be placed in the middle of the road, on the sides or both.
“We still haven’t determined that,” Grandmaison said. “We want to keep everyone involved in the process and see what ideas they have.”
Guidelines limit where rumble strips can be placed. The roads must have a minimum speed limit of 50 mph, shoulders at least 8 feet wide and a higher than average accident history.
Grandmaison said the cost of the project is not known. The state set aside $500,000 for rumble strip installation statewide. There are already rumble strips along the shoulders of all interstates and turnpikes and on the centerlines of four major state highways.
The state has previously announced it will place rumble strips on Route 111 between Hudson and Hampstead. Grandmaison said the $150,000 project is set to begin and could be completed in September.
“We just need to approve a contract through the Governor’s Council,” he said. “Once that is completed, it is a very quick operation.”
Peter Thomson, coordinator of the state’s Highway Safety Agency, said he campaigns to have rumble strips installed wherever possible.
“We’ve talked to DOT representatives and we are pleased that this is getting done,” he said.
The Plaistow informational meeting will be Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.