DOT Tries to Combat Crashes at Springville intersection
By Dave DeWitte, Reporter
SPRINGVILLE, Iowa - Instead of lowering the speed limit on Highway 151, the Iowa Department of Transportation is using an advisory speed posting in an effort to reduces crashes at a Springville intersection.
Motorists approaching the intersection of Highway 151 and Springville Road - the main intersection used by Springville traffic - have encountered a flashing yellow light and a yellow sign indicating 55 miles per hour for the past few months.
The legal speed limit on the stretch of Highway 151 remains 65 miles per hour, denoted by the traditional white rectangular speed limit signs, according to Transportation Planner Cathy Cutler of the DOT's District 6 office. Nevertheless, motorists seem to be heeding the highly visible advisory sign, Cutler said.
The intersection has been the site of many serious crashes, some of them fatal. Many regular users of the interchange complain that high traffic speeds and visibility issues on the curving east-west stretch of Highway 151 make it dangerous for motorists on Springville Road to cross the highway or turn onto it.
Springville Mayor Rick Heeren said he thinks the speed advisory sign is helping.
"Quite a few people are slowing down a little," Heeren said.
Cutler said the DOT has installed a camera to monitor traffic at the intersection because of the accident concerns. She said the DOT is considering the installation of a cross-traffic warning device to alert motorists on Springville Road when traffic is approaching on Highway 151.
When a vehicle is nearing the intersection on Highway 151, a signal consisting of two yellow caution lights that blink on and off in "ping-pong" fashion, Cutler said.
The DOT installed the first such cross-traffic warning signal in Iowa over a year ago at Old Dubuque Road and Highway 151 in Anamosa. Cutler said the signal has been well received by motorists, who especially like its ability to indicate approaching traffic that is difficult to see due to fog, snow or other low-visibility conditions.
Heeren said he wasn't aware that the DOT was considering the cross-traffic warning signal, but he supports "anything we can do to make that a safer intersection."
"If we try it and it works - great," Heeren said. "If we try it and it doesn't work, we will try something else."
City leaders have expressed a desire for a new interchange at Springville Road that would eliminate the dangers of crossing traffic, but it appears likely that it will take years to get the interchange funded, designed and built.
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