FLOYD — Driving west on the Avenue of the Saints, Sara McDonnell had a sick feeling when she saw a white car begin to drive south across the road in front of her near Floyd.
It was last August at Quarry Road.
“I could see this woman stop and I could see her start again,” said McDonnell, of Omaha. “And I kind of panicked because I knew if she would pull into that intersection, there was no way I wasn’t going to hit her.”
The crash that sent McDonnell’s Toyota across the road was one of 35 crashes reported at the intersection since June 1, 2011, according to county data.
McDonnell, who had minor injuries, believes the Iowa Department of Transportation needs to build an overpass to avoid having more crashes similar to hers.
FLOYD — A public meeting will be held Tuesday to discuss whether safety improvements are nee…
Many locals agree.
More than 100 people gathered Tuesday at the Floyd Community Center to voice their support for an overpass with on- and off-ramps at that intersection.
The meeting was sparked by the death of T.J. Houdek, a 23-year-old Charles City man killed last week at Quarry Road when he drove a motorcycle in front of an oncoming semitrailer.
An online petition urging the Iowa DOT to take action had nearly 3,000 signatures as of Tuesday’s meeting.
Many meeting attendees lined up to sign a hard copy placed on the community center stage.
“It’s something that needs to be put out there, that this intersection is deadly,” said Travis Wiemann, who started the petition. “And, it’s not going away. It’s not.”
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The divided four-lane highway, the Avenue of the Saints, runs east and west through the intersection. Quarry Road takes vehicles to the south. Highway 218 goes north.
It is at grade, or level with the road, as are most of Floyd County’s intersections with the Avenue.
Building an overpass at that intersection is not currently in the Iowa DOT’s 5-year plan.
However, the DOT has taken steps to speed up the process should the estimated $18-million project get the green light.
A required environmental impact study was completed last month. DOT spokesman Pete Hjelmstad said a community meeting is planned for November to discuss the department’s desired design alternative, the second meeting with residents it has held in the past two years.
Over the years, the Iowa DOT has made changes in an attempt to make the intersection safer, although many residents at Tuesday’s meeting said those changes weren’t enough and that an overpass is what is needed.
Lorraine Winterink, of Charles City, believes the DOT should take steps immediately to make at least some changes to increase safety.
“I think there’s kind of a good, better, best solution,” she said. “Good would be lowering the speed limit. Better is lower the speed limit and put in a stop light. Maybe we need some flashing lights coming up to that, two miles ahead ... And then the best solution would be that we need that overpass.”
Iowa State Rep. Todd Prichard, D-Charles City, who facilitated Tuesday’s discussion with former State Rep. Josh Byrnes, R-Osage, said he remains optimistic something can be done.
He urged those with concerns to send letters to state transportation officials.
“The good thing is the community is definitely behind this. You look at a town like Floyd, with a population of a few hundred people and about 120 people showed up (at Tuesday’s meeting),” Prichard said. “We heard that people are passionate. They’re tired of the accidents, they’re tired of seeing people hurt and unsafe conditions in their community.
“So now it’s up to us to kind of stay organized and send a message to the DOT that this project has got to be a priority.”