A highway paving contractor hired by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) began construction on Monday to remove the rumble stripes on A1A that stretch from Ponte Vedra to Vilano Beach.
Construction on A1A will take place Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
FDOT Spokeswoman Debbie Delgado expects the $2 million project to take approximately two months, with work expected to be completed by late May. Construction includes removing the center and shoulder stripes as well as expanding the bike lanes from five to six feet. Delgado added that the roadway will be resurfaced, which hasn’t been done in about 10 years. Work is starting on the Vilano Beach end of the roadway.
“We listened to the community, and we’re reevaluating the standards for where we put these,” said Delgado, who noted the contractor is Halifax Paving from Ormond Beach. “We’re really looking out for the safety of everyone.”
The FDOT spokeswoman added that the construction will result in moving lane closures, which she said will be limited to one to two miles in length and adjusted throughout the day. Because of the ongoing work, Delgado said there’s always the potential for backups on A1A.
The rumble stripes are being removed less than a year after they were first installed due to vehement opposition from nearby residents, who insisted the noise generated by the stripes has negatively impacted their quality of life. FDOT added the striping to the 15-mile stretch of A1A from south of Mickler’s Landing Beach to north of Carcaba Road to help prevent collisions on the roadway. But residents claim the purported safety measure has instead created a more unsafe environment for the residential area, especially for cyclists who say the rumble stripes have decreased the size of their bike lanes.
John Wegl, chairman of the Ponte Vedra Beach Municipal Service District (MSD) board, has been lobbying FDOT on behalf of the residents to remove the rumble stripes over the past year. As a resident of the A1A South area himself, he is thankful the department is addressing the community’s concerns.
“We appreciate DOT listening to our residents and coming to the conclusion that they need to be removed since they basically are installed in a residential area,” said Wegl. “DOT was very cooperative. We’re happy about that.”
Resident Steve Gibson said he’s “thrilled to death” to hear about the removal project. Gibson said the rumble stripes forced him to move his bedroom to the other side of his house, which is the last on Ponte Vedra Boulevard. The noise was so unbearable that he had to make the change, said Gibson, who started a petition after installation of the stripes to urge FDOT to remove them.
Cycling safety activists insist that rumble stripes aren’t generally bad for cyclists. The problem, they say, is where the stripes have been applied. According to Heather Neville, founder of the St. Augustine-based Velofest Community Initiative, standards for bike lanes are five feet in width in an urban setting and seven feet in a rural area. The current bike lanes on A1A, she said, are barely five feet due to the rumble stripes. Add in sand drifts and overgrowth, debris, a few parked cars and residents walking to the beach, and cyclists have nowhere to ride and maneuver.
“It’s compounding an already tight bike line with a very high speed road,” Neville said.
The cycling enthusiast has been pushing for this change since the stripes were installed. Now that the change is forthcoming, Neville is pleased.
“It’s a good thing,” she said. “Every now and then we get a success. I really feel like this is one of those proud moments.”