“How many of you are here because of rumble stripes?” asked John Wegl at this week’s meeting of the board of trustees of the Ponte Vedra Beach Municipal Service District.
A sea of hands shot in the air.
Wegl, vice chairman of the MSD board, shared the standing-room-only audience’s pain. Noting that he lives in the area of A1A south of Mickler Road where the striping had been installed, Wegl told attendees at the meeting – held Monday evening at the Ponte Vedra library – that the supposed safety feature had caused unintended consequences for local residents.
“All of you know that the noise doesn’t just happen when cars go over them,” he said. “The sound carries – right into our bedrooms. That is tantamount to a disruption to the quality of life many of us moved here for.”
Over the July 4 weekend, he noted, the noise was so bad that he decided to clock how often he heard the thundering reverberations as cars strayed onto the rumble stripes.
“It was five or six times every minute – not every hour, but every minute,” he stressed. “During the daytime, it affects your enjoyment of your property. At night, it affects your health.”
Wegl’s comments were echoed by numerous Ponte Vedra residents in attendance, who said the stretch of A1A between Mickler’s and the Guana Preserve had become too residential for the noise-inducing stripes.
“We’ve ended up moving our bedroom it’s so bad,” said Steve Gibson, who has collected more than 100 names on a petition to have the striping removed.
MSD Trustee Gordon Blalock added, “To be politically correct, I took my car down there to see how bad it is. It makes a heckuva lot of racket.”
Residents had hoped to share their concerns with two representatives from the state Department of Transportation in Tallahassee. Wegl told attendees, however, that earlier that day he received notification from the state that neither representative would be able to attend after all. Instead, District Two Safety Engineer Jeff Scott attempted to explain the rationale behind the striping’s installation.
“They are a safety improvement,” Scott said, noting that rumble striping was one of nine identified safety measures the department has at its disposal. “They are now the standard on roads where the speed limit is 50 miles per hour or higher and there is no curb.”
Scott acknowledged, however, that FDOT had received more complaints about motorists straying onto the stripes – and causing excessive noise – than it had anticipated.
“We knew people would cross over them occasionally – they have to when they change lanes – but we really didn’t expect people to have such difficulty staying in their own lane.”
Scott said FDOT is currently evaluating the Ponte Vedra rumble striping – which was installed on A1A from Mickler Road all the way to Vilano Beach – but was unable to offer specifics as to where the state was in the process or what the alternatives would be.
“Why can’t we just bring back the 45 mile an hour speed limit?” one resident asked to loud applause.
Other attendees said that far from being a safety tool, the striping has been causing accidents.
“I’ve actually rescued someone who was passed out in a car,” one resident said, while vice chair Wegl recounted seeing a bicyclist hit the striping and get thrown into the grass.
“Imagine if he went into the road instead,” he said.
The rumble striping discussion concluded when board Chairman Gary Jurenovich suggested convening a separate workshop to address the issue outside of the confines of a regular MSD board meeting.
“This is the sandbox we all need to play in – and we need to get the right people in the room to discuss this,” he said. “I think your message has been received.”