TUPELO • In an effort to reduce fatal accidents, the Natchez Trace Parkway is considering the addition of rumble strips to sections of the parkway in Mississippi and Tennessee.
The Federal Highway Administration and the parkway are considering a proposal to add audible pavement markings. The pilot program would install raised pavement markers or rumble strips along the centerline and both edges of the road in Prentiss and Tishomingo counties in Mississippi and from milepost 291 to 331 in Colbert and Lauderdale counties in Alabama.
Before starting the pilot program, the National Park Service will hear public comments from Nov. 18 until Dec. 20. Comments can be submitted electronically or mailed.
Officials say research suggests audible pavement markings reduce accidents. From 2014 to 2018, lane departures accounted for 91 percent of motor vehicle fatalities along the parkway. During that 4-year span, 39 crashes resulted in 46 deaths. The fatality rate from lane departure crashes along the Parkway almost doubles the national average of 52 percent.
“Lane departure is the dominant traffic safety concern for the parkway,” said Central District Law Enforcement Ranger John Hearne. “Engineering controls, such as the proposed rumble strips, will help avert drivers when they veer toward the edge or centerline. Research suggests these markings will reduce the number of serious crashes along the parkway.”
Although the public has suggested constructing a road shoulder or bike lane to improve safety, it is not a feasible alternative for the parkway due to significant environmental impacts to natural resources, prohibitive costs, and adverse impacts to the protected design intent of the cultural landscape.
Public comments can be submitted electronically via the National Park Service’s Planning, Environmental, and Public Comment (PEPC) website: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/parkwaysafety
Written comments should be mailed to: Superintendent; Natchez Trace Parkway; 2680 Natchez Trace Parkway; Tupelo, MS 38804.
Comments submitted must include your address, phone number and email address. Park officials said this information, as well as any other personal identifying information, may be made public at any time.
“While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your (personal identifiable information) from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so,” officials said.