Some Mullica Hill residents angry over rumble strip noise

Monday, June 26, 2017 09:50AM
NJ residents angry over noise road rumble strips make . Wendy Saltzman reports during Action News at 5:30 p.m. on June 9, 2017.

MULLICA HILL, N.J. - In New Jersey, Pennsylvania - and across the country - you can hear the sound that experts say saves live.

But tempers are flaring and debate is heating up about whether rumble strips should be used in residential areas and on roadways near homes.

The once peaceful area of Mullica Hill is the only place Vince Gangemi has ever called home.

"I've lived here my entire life, which is 57 years," Gangemi said.

But in the last few months his quiet life, he has been rattled by what he says is an intolerable racket.

"When they hit the strip in the middle, it just makes it ten times worse," Gangemi said.

The loud sound inside his home is the noise made by center lane rumbles strips that the NJ Department of Transportation installed on Route 77, just about 20 feet from his front door.

"Whenever someone comes down the road and comes around the bend and hits the rumble strip, it wakes you up. It shakes the house," Gangemi said.

Action News took a decibel reader with us to document the sound level. It hit about 94.

Experts say anything above 85 can cause permanent damage and hearing loss.

From across the road, that went over 96!

"Wow, it's a wonder I can hear at all," Gangemi said.

About 15 miles across the state in Salem County, the same noise is resonating in Jane Christie's home.

She said, "It's even noisy with my windows closed with the air conditioner on, and it starts early in the morning. I'm up at five, and I can hear it before that."

Christie lives off a county road where rumble strips have been installed. And until this summer, her biggest pride was her garden.

But now she says her pastime has been polluted by the loud rumble of cars going by.

"Sometimes it scares you, especially when you are out in the front there working, Christie said.

Action News took their complaints to the county and the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

Steve Schapiro, a spokesman with the New Jersey Department of Transparent said, "Any opportunity we have to create a more safe environment, we have a responsibility to do so."

New Jersey has installed center line rumble strips on about 770 miles of state road at a cost of $7.7 million.

"It has been a very cost effective proven technique to reduce accidents, injuries, and fatalities," added Schapiro.

In fact a study by the US Department of transportation found center line rumble strips can reduce accidents by 45% to 64%.

But the same study also suggests reducing noise by decreasing the strip depth, increasing their spacing, and varying their design.

For instance both Salem County and New Jersey DOT rumble strips are a half inch deep, where Pennsylvania's are 3/8th of an inch in passing zones.

When Action News asked Schapiro if there were plans to do any noise mitigation in the area he said, "At this point, no."

We reached out to Salem County officials. They said the rumble strips are for safety, and would not speak with us on camera.

The New Jersey DOT says while they have had some complaints about the installation of the rumble strips, most drivers understand.

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