Never veer, drivers: Warning strips coming to island toll bridge

dburley@islandpacket.comMarch 19, 2014 

Driver warning bumps planned for the Charles Fraser Bridge on Hilton Head Island will NOT be the same as these rumble strips along S.C. 46 in Bluffton photographed in September 2013, which have been the cause of nasty falls among cyclists. The bridge system will consist of raised plastic bumps on the yellow and white striping of the roadway.

DELAYNA EARLEY — Staff photo

Changes to the road could make for safer passage for bicyclists and pedestrians over Hilton Head Island's toll bridge.

The S.C. Department of Transportation will install elevated rumble strips along the Charles Fraser Bridge beginning this week or next weekend, according to state construction engineer Ricky Green.

The disc-shaped, plastic strips are designed to alert drivers who veer too close to bicyclists, joggers and walkers who use the bridge's shoulders. Placed about two feet apart, the discs would rise along the white stripe of the outside lane. They would also be installed on the yellow center lane.

Town Councilman Lee Edwards, who often bicycles in the area, said the strips would improve safety for the increasing number of pedestrians and bikers who cross the bridge.

"I think too many drivers aren't paying attention," he said. "When you're looking out over the bridge at the view, it's easy to veer off. Without having (the strips) as a warning, there's the potential of getting hit."

The strips are safe for bikers and drivers, said Frank Babel, co-chairman of Hilton Head's Bicycle Advisory Committee.

Drivers might feel their cars jostle and hear a clattering, but the strips won't pop a tire, he said.

And the strips are above ground, not milled into the road like ones that have caused bicycle accidents on S.C. 46 in Bluffton, according to some cyclists.

"These aren't the kind of footwide rumble strips that don't allow bicyclists to get out of the road," he said.

The strips are estimated to cost $6,000, according to town documents. Green said they are part of a six-county $1.5 million road project paid for by the state agency.

Babel said they are part of a larger plan to encourage bicyclists to ride on the north end of the island, and to ease congestion on the south end.

His group has installed warning signs that ask bridge bicyclists to ride with traffic. It has also set up kiosks with a map of island trails, two of which lead across the toll bridge.

"We have some beautiful parks on the north end, and the bridge happens to be a choke point, a place where we can get riders there," he said.

Follow reporter Dan Burley on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Dan.

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