The officials with the City of Anamosa, Jones County and the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) appear to be on the same page when it comes to the best way forward for the county’s most dangerous intersection.
Jones County Sheriff Greg Graver, Jones County Engineer Derek Snead and Jones County Attorney Kristofer Lyons appeared at the Nov. 25 Anamosa City Council meeting to share much of the same information they had shared with the county supervisors six days earlier.
In discussing his belief that the intersection should be closed, Graver said he viewed it as a public safety matter.
“As elected officials, I think it’s time to stop talking and take some action,” he said. “When your emergency responders are telling their husbands and wives and kids ‘Do not use that intersection, it’s too dangerous.’ Then why are we allowing the public to do the same?”
In researching crash statistics at the intersection, the county found that 6.5 percent of all fatal crashes occur at that interception and eight percent of all serious injury crashes, which are accidents with multiple broken bones, brain bleeds in the county occur there, making it more dangerous than the Springville Road intersection.
To have such a rash of fatal accidents at one intersection defied simple traffic patterns. Snead said generally, there is no correlation when it comes to fatalities at a given intersection. So when there are multiple fatalities like at the Old Dubuque intersection, which has seen three in the last 12 years, it’s a “red flag.”
Snead said the single best thing that could be done to make the intersection safer would be to just eliminate the cross-traffic.
While Graver said the timing of leaving town can get a little more complicated, entering town saved 11 seconds, having timed it. For the safety concerns it presented, pure convenience was not a big enough argument for keeping the intersection open.
The closure would not close off access to any businesses, but may add a bit of time to a commute to the Fawn Creek Country Club, which could still be accessed via Kaitlynn Avenue as the plan would include the eastern entrance onto the Highway from 130th Street as well. Graver said for the relatively light amount of traffic on that side of the intersection, it wasn’t worth the risk.
In addition to making the intersection safer, it would eliminate traffic going through the school zone past the middle school exiting off the highway.
Superintendent Larry Hunt said via phonewhile the school district allows district vehicles to come into town using the intersection, following the crash, they sent out a memo instructing district vehicles not to use the intersection to exit town there.
In addition to the city and the county, the Iowa DOT, was also on board with shutting down the intersection, despite a current project underway to help try to make the intersection safer and notify Highway 151 traffic of vehicles at the intersection, according to Snead.
All that information made the decision pretty simple for the city council members.
“I really feel this (intersection) is something we could get by without,” Council Member Cody Shaffer said, with fellow council members voicing their agreement. “For the safety benefit to the public, I don’t think this is a difficult discussion to have.”
Shaffer did say he would like to see a discussion had about connecting Old Dubuque Road with Parham Drive and moving the intersection out to J&P Cycles.
The next step in the process, after the county official reported back to the county supervisors at their Nov. 26 meeting, was to hold a public hearing to vacate their portion of the roads on either side of the intersection.
In order to consolidate comments, the city and county were going to look into scheduling a joint public hearing to take public comment.