City of White Salmon officials want the public to know that the city had nothing to do with the removal of the rumble strip on State Route 141 last week.
“The city had nothing to do with the road edge retainer being removed,” City Administrator/-Public Works Director Patrick Munyan Jr. said, referring to the rumble strip that for many years has delineated the roadway’s driving surface from the shoulder’s walking surface.
Munyan said further that the Washington State Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) project engineer did not contact the city about the paving project occurring inside its city limits.
“WSDOT had no explanation for why they didn’t contact the city before the project commenced,” Munyan said, and added, “It’s their state highway; they can do whatever they want, but they had a responsibility to inform the public about what they’re doing.”
WSDOT is paying for a $5.1 million project that includes the chip sealing of some 30 miles of SR 141, from the Skamania County line to its intersection with SR 14 in Bingen. In preparation for chip sealing, Granite on July 21 followed WSDOT’s plan to grind out and pave over the rumble strip that’s designed to help keep motorists in their proper lane of travel.
Christopher H. Tams, WSDOT’s Columbia Gorge Area engineer, told The Enterprise last week that the state did not intend to re-install the rumble strip following completion of the chip sealing project. Instead, the project is calling for painting a white fog stripe on SR 141 in place of the rumble strip.
Some community members are unhappy about the decision to remove the rumble strip. Sarah Gibson is among those questioning the decision. She shared her concerns with The Enterprise via an e-mail to Tams.
“Being a collegiate runner, I run on that road daily and embrace the comfort of knowing the rumble strip is there. Growing up in White Salmon, the high school cross country and track teams also run that road during workouts to make a loop around town. As a public safety issue, I believe a white fog stripe will not be sufficient enough to protect myself and others from vehicles,” Gibson wrote last Thursday after reading a story in the July 24 issue of The Enterprise.
Nonetheless, Tams said by e-mail Tuesday that he has been working with the Southwest Region’s executive management team to determine “what we are going to do in this location.” However, WSDOT will not be replacing the rumble strip, despite citizen concerns expressed to WSDOT that its removal will make the route unsafer for walkers and runners.
“The rumble strips should not have been installed in this location. They present a hazard to bicyclists and this safety deficiency will be corrected with this project,” Tams said, and added, “WSDOT is still evaluating if anything else can be done at that location to further delineate the shoulder at this location.”