Herald JournalHerald Journal, July 28, 2003

Two young pedestrians are injured on Hwy. 12

By Lynda Jensen

Two young pedestrians sustained minor injuries while attempting to cross Highway 12 near Bergies in Howard Lake July 20.

Kelsye Jones, 12, and Andrea Voves, 12, both of Howard Lake, were crossing the highway southbound at 6:45 p.m. when they were struck by a westbound 1993 Ford Taurus driven by Audrey Tack, 71, of Cokato.

Jones sustained a broken nose, swelling in her right knee, bumps and bruises, said her mother Bobbie Jones.

Voves was thrown over the vehicle, landing on the trunk, Bobbie Jones said. She received a broken toe, and many bumps and bruises.

"They're banged up pretty good," she said. "But it's a miracle (they're OK)."

The girls were one foot away from the crosswalk, about 12 feet into the street when they were struck, Jones said. The girls were coming back from Tom Thumb, on their way to Voves' house.

Both were treated and released, with Jones being taken to the medical facility in Waconia and Voves taken to Buffalo Hospital, said State Trooper Eric Mathwig, who was at the scene.

The accident follows an unrelated pedestrian accident in November that resulted in the death of Rhoda Jean Peterson-Shealy, 55, of Howard Lake.

In Shealy's case, she was walking southbound in the crosswalk located in front of the Old Town Gallery at 5:30 p.m., when she was struck by a 1991 Chevrolet Suburban.

Both accidents are following the reconstruction of Highway 12, which removed on street parking and added turn lanes to the design.

Waiting for a stoplight

Of course, many Howard Lake voices once again are asking for a stoplight ­ which is all up to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

In the past, and in other communities, MnDOT has demonstrated time-worn foot dragging about installing stoplights, such as the one recently installed at Highway 15 and Highway 12 in Dassel. The City of Dassel waited more than seven years for it.

"We've worked for years on a stoplight," Mayor Gerry Smith commented, saying that the council has little say over a US highway managed by the state.

The last push for a stoplight was last year, for a light to be located at Wright County Road 6 (on the east end of town) and Highway 12 ­ pressed by State Sen. Steve Dille-R (Dassel). This did not succeed.

"We found it was close to, but not meeting signal warrants (criteria)," Assistant Traffic Engineer Tom Dumont of the Minnesota Department of Transportation said of the city, according to a study done by MnDOT in February 2002.

In fact, a letter from Transportation District Engineer Bob Busch indicated that MnDOT actually thought Highway 12 and Wright County Road 6 (at the east end of town) would incur more accidents, because its crash history is so low.

A crash history revealed two accidents over five years for this intersection. The number of accidents at that intersection would probably increase to five or six, which would exceed the two crashes, Busch wrote.

Smith pointed to the 10 or so serious accidents that took place in Dassel, before the City of Dassel successfully obtained a stoplight.

Interestingly enough, the City of Montrose ­ which has a stoplight ­ recently had a request from Fire Chief Mike Marketon to make the lights change again; since the light is steady green due to construction on Wright County Road 12 and Highway 25.

The reason? "You can't get on the road or cross it," Marketon said.

Making the lights change is also up to MnDOT.

What is the criteria for a stoplight?

The state requires several criteria to be met before a stoplight is installed.

Stoplights are constructed based on state law that strictly regulates whether one is installed or not, said Assistant Traffic Engineer Tom Dumont of the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

The criteria are called "warrants," and set forth exactly what must be met before a stoplight is installed, Dumont said.

The warrants are set by state law, not by MnDOT, he said.

For example, one of the warrants that may be met is if there are five or more "correctable" accidents per year, Dumont said.

Correctable means that the crash would have been prevented by a stoplight, he said. An example of a correctable crash is a "right angle" crash, or what is typically known as a T-bone crash. These are generally fairly serious, he said.

Warrants include some of the following, determined by engineering studies:

  • the number of crashes per year,
  • amount of traffic coming from side streets,
  • delays to peak hour traffic,
  • speed and volume of traffic during an eight-hour time frame
  • pedestrian volume
  • conditions of school crossing foot traffic

Regarding pedestrian volume, the criteria dictates that two needs must be met:

1. The pedestrian volume must be 100 or more people for each of any four hours, or 190 or more during any one hour, and

2. There are fewer than 60 gaps per hour in the traffic stream of adequate length to allow pedestrians to cross during the same period when the pedestrian volume criterion is satisfied..

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