Fast traffic causes monument damage

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Posted: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 10:26 pm

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.

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  • G-burgFan posted at 6:06 am on Mon, Sep 27, 2010.

    G-burgFan Posts: 44

    Good grief, people...don't move the monuments. They've stood in their dedicated places for so long, it would be an insult to move them now. Divert the stupid, careless drivers away from them. Perhaps some sort of barrier would be the answer, and surely would cost much less than having to remove them to a "safer" location away from traffic. What a disgrace that drivers can't exercise enough caution without damaging these memorials to the fallen. Ban the drivers, and allow only tour buses, bikes and horses or open-air buggies. That'll teach 'em!

  • HISTORIAN posted at 10:35 pm on Thu, Sep 23, 2010.

    HISTORIAN Posts: 16

    I would prefer rumble strips or even a roadside barrier to moving the monument. Persons damaging monuments should have to pay the full cost for restoration.

  • Chris in Indy posted at 2:27 pm on Thu, Sep 23, 2010.

    Chris in Indy Posts: 68

    Rumble strips are a good idea, but I'd go one step further: speed bumps.

    This is a park road and shouldn't be used for "shortcuts." I'm not sure dropping the speed limit would help either. You can't always legislate stupidity. Careless driving is the only thing causing these accidents. I'd hate to see them move the monument because that's where the veterans wanted it. My other suggestion would be to put boulders down in front of it. I don't want to see a fence around it. A fence wouldn't really slow down vehicles anyway.

  • Heywood posted at 12:16 pm on Thu, Sep 23, 2010.

    Heywood Posts: 210

    That road where the 74th monument is on should have been closed years ago....I have an idea about the speed limit signs....ENFORCE THEM. Work with the local police or just send some rangers out there..They can write tickets too.......Then maybe they can take the admission price away from the Visitor Center

  • SilverWolf posted at 8:31 am on Thu, Sep 23, 2010.

    SilverWolf Posts: 2

    Hunt Avenue is too narrow for two cars to be driving on it at the same time, and with tourists driving SUVs, it seems like a few may want to consider re-taking Drivers Ed.

  • anonymous posted at 8:16 am on Thu, Sep 23, 2010.

    anonymous Posts: 121

    okay that would mean then that this is not conforming with keeping everything the way it should be on the battlefield. So I wonder how much damage was done to these people's cars? I bet they didn't turn it in to their insurance. Put up a heavy duty guard rail in front of the monument and problem solved. It won't be any different than those stupid looking fences out the Emmitsburg road that surly were not there during the battle.

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