Busy intersection to get makeover
A partnership between the city of Fairfield, Jefferson County Public Health and Fairfield Hy-Vee Food & Drugstore is planning to revamp an intersection in town to make it safer and more accessible to bicyclists, walkers and automobiles.
The proposal involves installing a left-turning arrow light on West Burlington Avenue for traffic turning south onto South 12th Street. West Burlington Avenue has a left-turning lane at the intersection now but the turning traffic does not have its own arrow. The blueprint for the remodeled intersection does not include a left-turning arrow for eastbound traffic onto North 12th Street.
The proposal does include the installation of truncated domes and curb cuts at the four curbs around the intersection. A truncated dome is a section of bumps useful to people in wheelchairs and to the visually impaired because it alerts them of the intersection.
To make the intersection even friendlier to pedestrians and cyclists, the crosswalks would be made of stained concrete, which would mean they would not have to be repainted as other crosswalks must be. A timer at each curb would count down the seconds remaining for pedestrians to cross the street.
The project is expected to be complete by September. The Fairfield City Council has included this project in its 2014-15 budget. Fairfield city administrator Kevin Flanagan said the city plans to contribute $50,000 to the project. A Community Transformation Grant will supply $15,000, and Hy-Vee Food & Drugstore has been asked to contribute about $20,000 toward the new traffic light.
Jefferson County Public Health administrator Chris Estle said the city hopes this project will become a “signature intersection” that will be a model for improvements at other intersections in town. She said it’s a very highly trafficked intersection.
“We got the traffic counts last year, and they indicated about 8,000 vehicles pass through that intersection per day,” she said. “There have been three accidents there in the past 12 months. From a bikability and walkability standpoint, this intersection is in need of some safety features.”
Estle said there is a time limit on this project because money from the CTG cannot roll over from one fiscal year to the next. Jefferson County is in its third year of receiving money from the five-year program.
The CTG program is federally funded through the Centers for Disease Control. On its website, the CDC states the grant program is designed to prevent chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease by encouraging exercise.
Hy-Vee Food & Drugstore director Chad Romer said the city approached Hy-Vee about this idea a year or two ago to find out if Hy-Vee would get on board. Romer said the company liked the idea because the changes would ensure the safety of its customers and anyone else who used the intersection.
“We get a lot of bike and foot traffic into our store,” he said. “I’ve seen the blueprints, and the way they’re redoing the sidewalks is going to make it safer for everybody walking across the street, whether they’re coming to Hy-Vee or not.”
Romer concurred with Estle in judging the intersection one of the busiest in town.
“Since I drive here six days a week, I know how dangerous it is,” he said.
Flanagan said he hopes the improvements for pedestrians at the intersection will lead to the paving of more sidewalks to the west. He said the city might someday undertake similar improvements to the intersection of West Burlington Avenue and the entrance to Walmart.