Fairfield Ledger
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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 17, 2018

City seeks to change intersection

Accident-prone Ninth and Burlington could get new crosswalk layout
By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Jul 30, 2018
Source: MICHAEL HALLEY The map shows the intersection of North Ninth Street and West Burlington Avenue in Fairfield. If the city receives a grant from the Iowa Department of Transportation, it plans to add crosswalks on Burlington Avenue so pedestrians do not have to cross in front of the traffic on Ninth Street like they do now. The city is also planning to add a countdown clock to tell pedestrians how much time they have to cross, push buttons to signal their intention to cross, and curb ramps.

The Fairfield City Council wants to improve safety at a crosswalk where a pedestrian was killed last year.

The crosswalk is at North Ninth Street and West Burlington near the Roosevelt Community Recreation Center. The intersection is unusual in that traffic that wish to stay on Ninth Street have to make a slight jog to the left. What’s more, traffic going straight pass through the crosswalk for pedestrians walking across Burlington.

In February 2017, a Fairfield man was struck and killed by a vehicle while crossing at the intersection. The vehicle that hit him was traveling on Burlington. Data from the Iowa Department of Transportation reveal there have been 27 crashes, including 19 injuries, at the intersection since 2008.

The D.O.T. ranked the intersection No. 1 in the city as the intersection most in need of attention, and ranked it No. 391 in the state on the same metric.

Even before the fatality, the city had identified that intersection as needing safety enhancements. In 2015, the city participated in Iowa’s Living Roadways Community Visioning Program in which a professional design team drafted a new layout for the crosswalks. The city used the draft in a 2016 application for a Wellmark Healthy Communities Grant, but did not receive it.

 

Proposed improvements

Given the intersection’s history of crashes and particularly in light of last year’s fatality, the city is eager to make safety improvements. The council voted unanimously July 23 to support an application for an Iowa Department of Transportation Traffic Safety Improvement Program Grant.

The proposed improvements the city has in mind would cost $92,000 and include the following:

• Removing the painted crosswalk on Burlington and replacing it with a pair of high visibility crosswalks, one on the west edge of the intersection and the other on the east edge. This would mean pedestrians would no longer have to cross in front of traffic driving straight on Ninth Street like they do now.

• Repainting the existing crosswalks on Ninth Street;

• Adding pedestrian signals with a countdown clock at each crossing;

• Adding push buttons for pedestrians to signal their intention to cross;

• Making all curb ramps compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In a draft application for the grant, the city cited a 2012 article in the Institute of Transportation Engineers Journal supporting recessed crosswalks because they make it easier for motorists to see pedestrians.

The council will learn whether it has received the grant in January. If it does, bids will be let in September 2019 and the project should be finished within two months.

Councilor Michael Halley has taken an interest in the intersection and has been lobbying for grant money to fix it. He said it’s unfortunate Ninth Street is laid out the way it is because it causes so much confusion at the intersection with Burlington.

“Everyone who goes through that intersection [headed north or south on Ninth Street] has a moment of panic,” he said. “As long as everyone uses their turning signal, you don’t have to worry. Drivers are already on high alert watching for other traffic, and when you add pedestrians, you’ve got a dangerous mix. Getting pedestrians out from the middle would be helpful for them, and it would be one less thing for drivers to think about.”

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