Unprecedented plan in place for dangerous intersection - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Unprecedented plan in place for dangerous intersection

by Bryan Goettel

SPRINGVILLE (KWWL) - Barb Shebetka goes through the intersection of Highway 151 and Springville Road every night on her way home from work.

"There's not a lot of traffic, but there's traffic enough that if you can't see then it's dangerous," said Shebetka.

It's gotten so bad many people in Springville try to avoid it.

"Oh yeah, if there's another route I take it," said Springville resident Rosalie Duarte.

According to the state, from 2001 to 2007, there were 25 crashes in the intersection, five of which had major injuries. One woman died as a result of a 2005 wreck. Now considered one of the most dangerous intersections in the state, the Iowa Department of Transportation is planning an unprecedented project.

"Lately we've fallen upon a concept called a J-turn concept that if built would be the first one in Iowa built," said Iowa Department of Transportation District 6 engineer Jim Schnoebelen.

Here's how the J-turn works: drivers on Springville Road will not be able to cross or turn left onto Highway 151.  Instead, they will have to turn right and drive approximately a thousand feet to a crossover.  From there, drivers can make a u-turn to get back on 151 in the other direction.

An intersection in Galena, Maryland had similar problems. Residents there initially balked at the J-turn idea, but have since come around after seeing a dramatic decrease in serious crashes.

The DOT presented its project at a November meeting in Springville. Schnoebelen says it's received overwhelming support.

"We're designing the project and we would anticipate having it under construction in the summer of 2010," said Schnoebelen.

While the new design will send some on essentially a short detour, drivers like Barb Shebetka say they won't mind a little bit longer commute.

"It's better to have the inconvenience and saving lives then to have somebody else killed," said Shebetka.

Online Reporter: Bryan Goettel

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