The state is moving ahead with plans to add rumble strips to a crash-prone section of U.S. Route 202 in Winthrop.

Shawn Smith, project manager for the Maine Department of Transportation, said bid packages are set to be advertised Wednesday. The exact schedule of the project will be up to the winning contractor, but all work must be completed no later than Sept. 27.

“Of course, we would hope that the contractor will be completed prior to that deadline,” Smith said.

The plan calls for centerline and some white-edge line rumble strips over an approximately 5-mile section of road where the most accidents occur, between Annabessacook Road in the west and Welch Point Road in the east. Smith said there will be five segments of strips on sections of road where the speed limit exceeds 45 mph. There is a 55 mph limit through much of the town.

“Breaks in the rumble strips will be given to side roads and entrances so turning vehicles can make their turn without running over the centerline rumble strips,” Smith said.

The plan calls for rumble strips on white edge lines around the Route 135 intersection. Smith said the state will evaluate the safety benefits of the side strips before deciding whether to add more.

“We feel this is a good place to install the white edge line rumble as there is a lot of turning traffic, as well as a still high speed in this area,” Smith said.

The project, which will cost an estimated $34,000, will likely be completed during nighttime hours to minimize the traffic disruption, Smith said.

Transportation officials hope adding the strips, which when run over cause a loud noise and vibration designed to alert inattentive drivers, will cut in half the number of head-on crashes.

“This is a great first step to improving safety on 202,” Smith said.

There were 28 head-on or near head-on crashes between 2009 and 2013 on Route 202, according to DOT figures. Those crashes resulted in 28 serious injuries.

There have been seven crash deaths since 2003 on the section of road set to be covered by a strip. Four of those deaths were the result of a head-on crash, according to the state and published reports. The most recent fatal head-on crash occurred in March and claimed the life of 71-year-old Richard Leighton. That crash occurred during a snowstorm that left the road covered in slush.

There are eight roads in Maine with centerline rumble strips and the results have been impressive. Strips were added in 2006 to Route 4 in Turner and Route 1 in Woolwich. Strips were added to roads in Hancock and York counties last year.

In the six years before rumble strips were added on Route 4 and Route 1, there were 21 head-on crashes and eight deaths, according to the DOT. There have been 10 head-on crashes, none of which were fatal, in the six years since. Duane Brunell, safety manager for the DOT, said there have been no crash deaths on any roads where there are center-line strips.

Brunell said the state considers speed and traffic volume when deciding where to add centerline rumble strips. The department also is considering strips on Route 202 in neighboring Monmouth, which had a fatal head-on crash just weeks before the crash that killed Leighton.

Craig Crosby can be contacted at 621-5642 or at:

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