Rumble Strips

A car approaches rumble strips on Derby Grange Road near the intersection with John F. Kennedy Road in Dubuque on Wednesday. Neighbors are concerned by the noise produced by the strips.

Rumble strips near a rural Dubuque intersection were the focus of a discussion this week involving neighbors protected by it and those bothered by the noise.

The rumble strips are on Derby Grange Road to get drivers’ attention as they approach the T intersection with John F. Kennedy Road, and the discussion came during a Dubuque County Board of Supervisors work session.

The rumble strips have been a safety feature on the roadway for more than a decade.

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An attorney representing the Heims, whose home sits across the intersection from Derby Grange Road, said the strips are crucial to the family’s safety.

Still, the Heims have experienced two significant crashes into their structures — one in 2010, where a sedan crashed through the living room, and one last year, when a vehicle struck the garage, moving it off its foundation.

Without the rumble strips there, the Heims believe that number would be much greater.

“They routinely have vehicles land in their yard,” said county Supervisor Ann McDonough.

The acreage along Derby Grange always had been mostly rural farmland. But in recent years, residential growth has increased in the area.

Some of the newer residents in the area insist that, for them, the sounds of more and more vehicles crossing those rumble strips have become unbearable.

“It’s very country-like, even though we are in the city. It’s very quiet and lovely much of the time,” said Kate Scheinman, who moved to the area in August 2019 after having her house built. “Then, you have these loud, jarring noises, over and over. We can’t sleep with the windows open at night. How can we maintain safety and maintain our sanity?”

Charlotte Halverson, another newer resident to the area, said she works with federal safety agencies and measured the noise.

“There are several times where even the decibel level would be over what would be considered safe by (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and (Occupational Safety and Health Administration),” she said. “There has got to be some other engineering solution where we could eliminate that and have all our neighbors feeling safe and comfortable.”

One change that both groups of neighbors thought could help was decreasing the speed limit on Derby Grange from 45 mph to 35. They believe that the reduction would reduce the volume of the noise and the likelihood of vehicles ending up on the Heims’ property.

The county supervisors were in agreement with that recommendation, and they will consider it at an upcoming meeting in which they can take action.

But County Engineer Anthony Bardgett said reducing the speed alone likely would not make a major difference in the noise level, so that would have to be just part of the solution.