What is causing that expressway sound? And will it end?

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By Jennifer Yos

LANSING, Ill. (September 18, 2022) – Lansing residents who live close to the I-80/94 expressway (aka Frank Borman, Kingery, Tri-State) are familiar with traffic sounds — even with sound barrier walls in place — but last week a new thundering sound made its debut that has many residents wondering about its cause. Those living along or near 175th Street and Bernice Avenue are most likely to be impacted by the sound.

Mystery

The sound has been likened to the sound of a high school band drum line or to gym shoes tumbling in a clothes dryer, and it emanates from the expressway sound wall east of the Torrence Avenue exit and west of the Illinois/Indiana state line. The sound is sporadic —only occurring when traffic is fast-moving — most often in the early morning hours and at night during sleeping hours.

The low rumbling noise can be heard in the following video, taken at 7:43 a.m. on Monday, September 19, near the intersection of 175th and Community Street:

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Mystery solved

What is the source of this new and disruptive sound? The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) has recently placed temporary rumble strips on the Illinois side of the Frank Borman expressway in the eastbound traffic lanes. Temporary rumble strips are safety strips placed across lanes of traffic to alert motorists of upcoming road work zones, lane closures, or other road situations requiring caution and a reduction in speed. Similar to speed bumps, they are raised strips, but are designed for higher speed traffic. They alert drivers not only visually, but also through the vibration they create and the sound they make as the driver rides over them.

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Rumble strips like the ones shown here, near Bock Park, are spaced along the expressway all the way toward the state line. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

The temporary rumble strips are in place for INDOT’s currently ongoing Kingery/Tri-State construction.

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Many Lansing residents live near the rumble strips on the highway, making the noise — which is often worst at night and in the early morning when traffic is light — a nuisance. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

How temporary is “temporary?”

When will the temporary rumble strips be removed? Responding to a Lansing resident inquiry, INDOT Customer Service Manager Amy Stanley answered in an e-mail: “The current lane configurations for our project taking place on the Borman are scheduled to be in place for approximately 45 days. Once our crews complete the current construction phase, traffic on the Borman near your home will switched back to normal.”

45 days from the date of the email would be November 1.

More information about ongoing construction in Indiana is available at www.in.gov/indot.

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Jennifer Yos grew up on Walter Street in Lansing with nine siblings. She attended St. Ann’s School and T.F. South, and she earned a BA in the Teaching of English from the University of Illinois, Chicago, and a MS in Education: Curriculum and Instruction from the University of St. Francis, Joliet. For 34 years she taught English, as well as Creative Writing and Drama, at Lincoln-Way High School. She dabbled in freelance journalism for the Joliet Herald News Living section. Now retired, Jennifer appreciates the opportunity to write for The Lansing Journal and is uplifted by the variety of positive people she has already met who are making a difference in Lansing.