WATERLOO — The city is getting state funds to fix an increasingly dangerous intersection on West Ridgeway Avenue.
The Iowa Transportation Commission has approved a $310,000 grant for Waterloo to install traffic signals and a turning lane at the T-intersection of Ridgeway and Greyhound Drive.
It’s part of nearly $8 million earmarked this month under the Iowa Traffic Safety Improvement Program for 44 projects statewide, including rural road projects in Black Hawk and Fayette counties.
Waterloo Traffic Operations Superintendent Sandie Greco said the city sought the grant as vehicle counts and accidents began increasing with the opening of Love’s Travel Stop and other development in the growing Greenbelt Center business park.
“There have been accidents, and some of them have been rear-end,” Greco said. “When (John) Deere lets out, the traffic is very, very heavy on Ridgeway.”
Crash data for the intersection show a pattern of broadside collisions between traffic on northbound Greyhound Drive turning left to head westbound on Ridgeway. It is difficult for vehicles at the stop sign on Greyhound to make that turn when traffic is heavy, especially during peak hours caused by workers from the John Deere Product Engineering Center.
Between from 2014 through the middle of 2018 eight people were transported to hospitals for injuries from accidents at that location. There were also two reported rear-end accidents as eastbound vehicles on Ridgeway slowed to turn right, or south, onto Greyhound.
The safety grant will pay for traffic signals at the intersection and construct a right-turn lane from eastbound Ridgeway onto Greyhound. Greco said the construction project is expected to begin in 2020.
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The city also received a $5,000 grant to pay for its “Vision Zero Initiative,” an education and awareness campaign with a goal to prevent traffic accident fatalities.
Meanwhile, Black Hawk County received the $286,000 it sought for edge treatments on County Road C57, or Cedar-Wapsi Road, when it is resurfaced in 2019 from U.S. Highway 218 to U.S. Highway 63.
“We are going to put 13-foot lanes on the road, which currently has 12-lanes,” said County Engineer Cathy Nicholas. “This money will pay for the additional asphalt widening … and we’re going to add edgeline rumble stripes.”
The 6-inch wide rumble stripes will alert motorists who drift toward the shoulder, while 6-inch painted markings will be more visible to motorists, especially in the fog and snow.
“The (Iowa Department of Transportation) is taking a more systemic approach to road safety,” Nicholas said. “They want us to target more corridor level projects instead of just putting all our money at one bad intersection.”
Nicholas noted traffic is increasing on Cedar-Wapsi Road since IDOT built an interchange at U.S. 218, which opened in 2016. The average daily traffic has increased by 27 percent, according to state data.
Fayette County is also getting $430,588 in safety funds for similar edge treatments on County Road W51, or Cedar Road, from near Elgin to Iowa Highway 56.
County Engineer Joel Frantz said the project, likely to be done in 2020, will add edgeline rumble stripes and also install a safety edge that creates a taper from the roadway to the shoulder. The current condition can be unsafe for a vehicle when the tire drops off the pavement on the soft shoulder.