Herald and Journal, Dec. 6, 1999

Board approves more stop signs at Wright Co. Rds. 30 and 8

By John Holler

There are times when the Wright County Board of Commissioners can flex its muscle and exert its authority.

While the board typically makes its decisions based on rules of order, at times an event can prompt immediate action, as was in evidence at the board's Nov. 23 meeting.

Commissioner Dick Mattson was livid about the county's refusal to keep a four-way stop sign at the intersection of Co. Rds. 8 and 30 south of Waverly, the site of nearly a dozen traffic deaths in the last 30 years.

While the intersection had been a four-way stop during construction of Hwy. 12, the signs on Co. Rd. 8 had been removed following the detouring of traffic ­ deemed not worthy by highway department standards to need a four-way stop.

"I'm thoroughly disgusted with this," said Mattson following a fatal car accident Nov. 20. "What is a four-way stop compared to a life? It can be explained why we don't need one, but how many deaths do we have to have before we do something?"

County Highway Engineer Wayne Fingalson said that the bottom line is that the engineering criteria the county uses states the intersection simply doesn't warrant a four-way stop, but Mattson was not to be dissuaded. He made a motion that the board immediately approve the installation of two more stop signs and rumble strips to the intersection.

While most of the commissioners agreed with the installation of the signs, the availability of the equipment that puts rumble strips on roads was removed from the motion because it may not be possible to get fast action on it.

The motion passed 4-1, with Commissioner Ken Jude voting against it. While Jude said he would vote for the matter after the highway department presented its data at the next transportation committee, he said it was inappropriate to break from county policy to "vote on a kneejerk reaction" and that the item wasn't even placed on the agenda -- it was added at the start of the meeting.

However, the rest of the board sided with Mattson and hope the problem will be solved.

"It just amazes me that people have to die before something changes," Mattson said. "I'm glad we were able to get this done. Hopefully, another family won't lose anyone on that intersection."

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