Ventura County is applying for a grant to install rumble strips along 14 county roadways, including Creek Road near Ojai.
Perry Van Houten, Ojai Valley News senior reporter
Rumble strips — those indentations in the road pavement designed to alert unattentative drivers to danger by causing noise and vibration — could be coming to one Ojai Valley roadway.
On Tuesday, county supervisors voted to approve and authorize five federal grant applications for highway safety improvements countywide, including the possible installation of rumble strips on Creek Road.
Rumble strips, which can be installed along the centerline of the road and at the fog line (the white line on the right side of the road), are a proven and cost-effective countermeasure to lane departure crashes caused by drowsy, distracted or inattentive drivers, according to David Fleisch, county director of roads and transportation.
Installed at the centerline, the strips are proven effective in reducing head-on crashes. “It can prevent more than 50 percent of those accidents,” Fleisch said. On the shoulder, the strips can prevent drivers from running off the road. “Anywhere from 25 to 50 percent of the single vehicle, run-off-the-road accidents can be prevented,” he said.
The five grant applications will be submitted to the California Department of Transportation under a federal program aimed at reducing fatalities and serious injuries by implementing infrastructure-related highway safety improvements.
They include not only rumble strips, but guardrails, traffic signals and pedestrian enhancements in various areas of the county.
The county transportation department is requesting $844,830 to fund engineering and construction of the strips on 14 separate roads in the county. Calculations for the grant request were based on road length and the assumed cost per lineal foot of installing the rumble strips.
The requests for funding are based on collision data, Fleisch said. “Roads where we have either very tight curves that are more prone to run-off-the-road accidents, or where we have a higher than state average number of run-off-the-road or crossing over the centerline accidents. Most of ours are the run-off-the-road.”
Statewide and nationally, Fleisch said, about 40 percent of crashes are run-off-the-road accidents, “the ones these rumble strips actually try to prevent.”
If the grant application for the rumble strips is approved, county officials will need to do an assessment and analysis to determine exactly where they’ll go, and on which roads, based on the amount of funding received. “Just on the fog line, in the centerline, or both, and on which portions of the road,” Fleisch said.
It will likely take six months or more, he said, to find out if the grant applications were approved. “From the time of notification that we got the grant until you actually see the work start will probably be somewhere in the order of two years,” he said.
Creek Road would not need widening to accommodate the rumble strips, according to Fleisch. “They basically go underneath the stripe. We may have to adjust some lane width a little bit. That’s part of the design process we go through to see exactly where you position them,” he said.
But Creek Road resident Teena Broumand, a longtime advocate for safety improvements on Creek Road, told the Ojai Valley News she spoke with a county traffic engineer who told her the road would need to be widened to make room for rumble strips along the road shoulder.
Broumand is concerned a wider road will encourage speeding. “The rumble strips are going to widen the road and make it faster for cars, because it’s basically going to give them a wider berth to fly down the road,” she said.
Rather than rumble strips, Broumand is asking the county to install additional stop signs at Encino Road, Hermosa Road and Country Club Drive, set the speed limit for all of Creek Road to 40 mph, and extend the no-passing lane dividers recently installed on a portion of the roadway between Kenewa Street and Kiowa Court.
Broumand said the county’s grant application for rumble strips on Creek Road amounts to “finding Band-Aids.”
The California Department of Transportation uses rumble strips on state highways. There are rumble strips on Santa Rosa Road near Camarillo, according to Fleisch.
In addition to rumble strips, the county is applying for a grant for pedestrian enhancements on Grand Avenue in Ojai, and on Sunset Avenue and Larmier Avenue in Oak View.
The enhancements could include pedestrian crossings, striping and signage, Fleisch said. “We’re trying to make the roads safer and more comfortable for the traveling public, whether you be a driver, a bicyclist or a pedestrian.”