Fatal accident continues questions about 218/C57 safety - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Fatal accident continues questions about 218/C57 safety

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One man has died following a motorcycle accident in Black Hawk County Thursday morning.  Authorities say a pickup truck was topped in the median of C57 and Highway 218 when it was struck by the motorcycle, which was heading northbound. 

The motorcyclist, 42-year-old Scott Bender, died at the scene. The driver of the pickup, 56-year-old Duane Degroote, was cited for failing to yield while entering a through highway.

What's troubling is this fatal crash comes after the DOT made some safety improvements to that very intersection this summer.  Within the past month, all lanes of 218 and Cedar Wapsi Road in Black Hawk County have re-opened.  The Iowa DOT offset the turn lanes and added acceleration lanes in an effort to make the crossing safer.  But some who live near the intersection say it's not enough and more is needed to prevent serious accidents.

Gloria Dayton has lived on her Black Hawk County farm for 45 years.  Nearly two decades ago, she actually sold part of her land to the state so that Highway 218 could be expanded.  Ever since then, the traffic along the highway has steadily increased.  And with that has come a lot of accidents.

"My heart goes out to anyone that's been in an accident there and now this death.  It really bothers me," Dayton said.

Dayton has seen a lot of attempts to fix the intersection.  Before the recent addition of offset turn lanes and acceleration lanes, the Iowa DOT had also lowered the speed limit along the highway and added rumble strips ahead of the crossing.  But with Thursday's fatal motorcycle crash, the question remains:  have nay of those changes actually made the crossing safer?  Dayton's not so sure, and she thinks there's really only one solution.

"I mean they've spent thousands of dollars now and this has helped a little maybe, but not that much.  The only thing that's going to work is an overpass with on lanes," said Dayton.

The DOT doesn't disagree.  The department is in the design phase of a highway interchange at 218 and Cedar Wapsi.  But the looming concern is whether or not funding can be secured to actually construct an overpass.  In the mean time, Dayton has just one piece of advice.

"You just have to be really careful," she said.

Even if the DOT can't secure funding to pay for a highway overpass at Cedar Wapsi and 218, the department says it is constantly reviewing crash data to see if additional, smaller changes can be made to improve the safety of the intersection. 

Thursday's motorcycle crash is the second fatal accident at this particular intersection since May.

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