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Rumble strips removed after the Amish say they're dangerous

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – Rumble strips on the side of the road are supposed to keep drivers safe. They wake you up if you doze off, and help keep drivers on the road through snow and fog.


However, the Amish say they're actually dangerous for their horse and buggies.


Currently M-DOT is filling in those rumble strips on parts of M-66 and M-86 in St. Joseph County, and the work is causing something of a rift in small communities nearby.


The rumble strips were put in after a big push came out of Lansing. Before they put them in on M-66 and M-86 in 2008, M-DOT says they contacted the Amish for input, but never got any.


With rolling hills, pastures, and corn as far as the eye can see, much of the area is Amish country. M-66 and M-86 run right through it, with new rumble strips to guide the way. Now it appears that the strips are not a benefit for everyone, so they're being cut out and filled in.


"The decision to remove the rumble strips came from feedback from the Amish community," said Nick Schirripa, M-DOT spokesperson.


Schirripa and M-DOT say removing the rumble strips is the right thing to do.


"We had a couple of folks go down and actually ride on one of the horse-drawn carriages and experience what it is they experience," said Schirripa.


Newschannel 3 decided to give it a try for ourselves, and discovered that it makes for a very loud and violent ride.


Orvin Bontrager was nice enough to lend us his buggy. Bontrager told us why he has to use his 20-year-old horse to go over the rumble strips.


"The other horse I have is skittish," said Bontrager, "when I go on top of that, she runs wild, goes wild."


Unfortunately it's costing tax payers $275,000 to remove 20 miles of rumble strips that only cost $20,000 to put in.


"I said, 'you mean to tell me something that costly, they would go ahead and fill in because a few of the Amish complained,'" said Steve Dobberteen, who wants the rumble strips to stay.


Dobberteen is one of a growing number of people in St. Joseph County who believes that the Amish shouldn't have a say in what happens with a state road.


"Some people are saying, 'Well jeeze, you know the Amish people don't pay taxes for that, why are we filling them in' what do you think about that? We pay our taxes," said Dobberteen.


Roads are paid for largely with gas tax and vehicle registration fees, which the Amish have no reason to pay.


M-DOT says they are not removing the strips just to appease the Amish. They say it is far more dangerous to have horses jumping out into the road that it is to not have the rumble strips on the road.


The strips are currently being filled in, but M-DOT has no time-line for completion of the project.


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