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Highway 151 crashes could be reduced by turning lanes

Highway 151 in Fairfax, Iowa (KCRG-TV9 NEWS)
Highway 151 in Fairfax, Iowa (KCRG-TV9 NEWS)(KCRG)
Published: Aug. 26, 2019 at 6:13 PM CDT
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Crashes along Highway 151 in Fairfax and Walford continue to be a concern for many drivers in the area.

On Monday, the Linn County Sheriff's Office said a school bus driver turning onto Highway 151 from Wright Brothers Boulevard failed to yield and a vehicle crashed into the bus. No one was seriously hurt in that crash.

On Sunday morning, a 17-year-old tried to make a left turn from the highway but pulled in front of another car at Prairie Avenue in Fairfax. The crash killed the second car's driver, 81-year-old Larry Luther of Amana. Two other people were also injured.

The Iowa Department of Transportation is planning to makes changes along this stretch of the road but said the plans were already in the works and aren’t really intended to reduce the number of crashes.

They said the real cause could be distracted driving.

The Mayor of Fairfax Bernie Frieden said these accidents are a concern for his citizens.

“It needs to be fixed, it’s one of those things you don’t want to see happen ever,” said Frieden.

Only about 900 people called Fairfax home in 2000 and they expect that number to top 3,000 by 2020.

“Obviously, the increase in residents is going to increase that a little bit, however, I don’t think that increase has a lot to do with the number of accidents, I think it’s due to the way of the world, we’re busy, we’re not paying attention, speeding doing things we shouldn’t be doing,” said Cathy Cutler from the Iowa DOT.

Over the last five years, of the 82 crashes along Highway 151, 25 of them were due to the driver following too closely.

“So maybe with all of the driveways, there’s a lot of traffic – close to 15,000 vehicles go through here, with people turning and maybe some distracted drivers, people aren’t paying attention,” said Cutler.

The DOT is planning to make some changes to the highway. They are replacing and widening the viaduct that runs over the train tracks in Fairfax but they do hope the $16 million project will help reduce crashes.

“You’ll have a turn lane to safely be in on either side of the viaduct – we aren’t really widening Highway 151 at any location, we are adding some turn lanes at specific streets,” said Cutler.

They’re also adding a T intersection where Prairie and Losey Avenue meet Highway 151, a popular spot for rear-end accidents. The project isn't expected to start until next year.

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