Linn Co. Neighbors Want More than One Stop Sign at Rural Intersections

By Dave Franzman, Reporter

LINN COUNTY, Iowa- Linn County Supervisors should discuss a stop sign Monday for a rural intersection where two people have died in separate wrecks in the past 15 months. But neighbors in that area east of Coggon are now saying just one stop sign isn't enough.

Both accidents happened at the intersection of Upper Boulder Road and Hills Mill Road. The accident Wednesday between a car and a fertilizer spreader claimed the life of Nicholas Aberle, 20, of Troy Mills. Margaret Holub, 44, of rural Central City died at the same intersection after colliding with a truck in July of 2012.

Ben Holub said after his wife died in the first wreck he and neighbors in that area of northern Linn County went to supervisors to request traffic controls at the intersection. He said he was disappointed when a study by the Linn County Secondary Roads Department determined the roads in question didn't meet either the safety or engineering criteria for some sort of traffic control. But Holub said he was devastated when another wreck in the exact same spot claimed yet another life.

"It made me angry. We were right, it's a dangerous intersection and something needs to be done," he said.

Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson said the latest deadly accident does change the situation and supervisors have a stop sign discussion on the agenda at Monday's work session. Oleson said if supervisors approve the change with a formal vote Wednesday the new stop sign for east-west traffic on Upper Boulder Road could go up by the end of next week.

But Holub and some of his friends want more. They plan to attend the supervisor's Monday to ask the county to consider installing either a stop or yield sign at every single rural intersection no matter how light the traffic. Louie Zumbach, one of Holub's neighbors, said that way there's no question who must yield and who has the right of way.

"An accident could happen at any time and a stop sign won't always stop an accident. But I'll guarantee you most people will at least slow up," Zumbach said.

Holub and neighbors will tell supervisors that a number of counties do that already. Dubuque and Delaware Counties have traffic controls at every rural intersection now. A worker at the Benton County Engineer's office said he believe nearly county road there, with just a few exceptions, is controlled. But a spot check of other nearby counties found more following the pattern in Linn County. County engineers in Johnson, Iowa, Black Hawk, Buchanan and Cedar Counties all have hundreds of uncontrolled intersections in the rural areas like Linn County. The rule at uncontrolled intersections is for drivers to yield the right of way to oncoming traffic.

Holub said he and his neighbors plan to thank Linn County Supervisors Monday for finally agreeing to a stop sign at what many in the area consider a dangerous intersection with blind spots due to tall corn. But they won't be satisfied with just new stop signs on one road.

"After Monday's meeting, if we don't get the results we're hoping for we're not going to let this die this time. We're going to be back and keep coming," Holub said.
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