Careless driving has resulted in monument damage at Gettysburg National Military Park, leading Superintendent Bob Kirby to announce that memorial relocation is being considered.
Kirby also reported that new signage and traffic control devices, such as bumper strips, are planned along battlefield roadways, to deter further collisions between vehicles and monuments.
“It’s a sad and continuing saga,” Kirby said regarding the distracted driving. “There are people out there texting while driving, and not focused on the road.”
“We may be moving monuments out of the trajectory of vehicles,” added Kirby.
The Pennsylvania 74th Monument along West Howard Avenue, just northwest of Gettysburg, is under consideration to be relocated farther from the roadway, near its current position. According to the Park Service, the monument — which sits about 10 feet back from the road — has been struck repeatedly over the past five years by wayward drivers. Motorists damaged the monument again this past summer.
“We are looking at some additional traffic control devices along Howard Avenue to keep visitors from hitting the 74th Pennsylvania Monument,” Kirby said Sept. 16, during an NPS meeting.
The monument sits near a bend in the roadway, dubbed “Dead Monuments Curve” by park guides and historians. One new sign was recently installed along the road, warning motorists about the curve.
“It’s still slightly off its base from the last hit,” noted GNMP spokeswoman Katie Lawhon.
Park officials explained that they would not relocate the 74th Pennsylvania Monument far from its current location, as its placement denotes an historically-accurate position of troops during the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. The monument would be set back farther from the road.
Many local motorists use West Howard Avenue as a shortcut from Carlisle to Mummasburg road, and surpass it posted speed limit of 25 mph. Tourists using the road for the first time are often unfamiliar with its sharp curve, where the Pennsylvania 74th Monument is positioned.
Kirby informed the park’s advisory commission Sept. 16 that the NPS is considering placing rumble strips atop West Howard Avenue, to slow down traffic entering the curve. The curve is home to about a half-dozen monuments, including the 74th Pa. Memorial.
Lawhon noted that the “only other monument the park is considering taking these protective measures” for — such as relocation — is the Battery K, 5th US Artillery monument on Hunt Avenue, west of the Baltimore Pike.