By Gabe Licht
DELANO, MN A 34-mile stretch of Highway 12 from Hennepin County Road 6 to the Meeker County border accounts for 3.27 percent of all severe and fatal crashes in Minnesota, compared to the statewide average of 2.1 percent for rural, two-lane roads.
The Highway 12 Safety Coalition is working to bring that number down and will soon have a better idea of how to do that.
Minnesota Department of Transportation officials presented a plan for a safety audit to the coalition during its May 7 meeting.
A pre-audit will collect data; determine logical segments such as traffic volume characteristics, speed characteristics, land-use characteristics, intersections, and the entire corridor; analyze construction corridor history; and analyze crash data from 2010 to 2014 along segments and at intersections.
Data from 2010 to 2014 shows that rear-end crashes are the most common, followed by right-angle crashes, and being run off the road on the right side. When it comes to fatal and severe crashes, the majority are head-on collisions. Severe and fatal crashes are also most likely to happen in non-junction areas.
Collisions with other motor vehicles account for the majority of all crashes on the stretch, with overturns or rollovers being the second most common.
The highest number of crashes took place in Independence, outside city limits, and Maple Plain, with similar statistics for severe and fatal crashes.
In addition to reviewing this data, the road safety audit team will conduct an onsite safety corridor review May 28. That team consists of MnDOT State Traffic Safety Engineer Brad Estochen, Traffic Safety Engineer Derek Leuer, another traffic engineer, a state geometric engineer, a bicycle and pedestrian engineer, West Hennepin Public Safety Director Gary Kroells, Federal Highway Administration Safety Engineer Will Stein, and HDR Inc. consultants Brandi Popenhagen, Bernie Arseneau, and Natalie Lindsoe.
“Basically, we’re going to get together and go over things like risk factors, volume of traffic, road users, intersection layout, traffic control devices, road geometry, development, and access onto Highway 12, all those things we talk about,” said Kroells, who chairs the coalition. “Then, they’ll put that together and do a post-audit report back to our group.”
That presentation is scheduled for the coalition’s next meeting at 2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 6, at Delano City Hall.
“We’re really excited about the opportunity to work with all these players to make a difference and make a change in the safety of Highway 12,” Kroells said. “It’s long overdue. All the players are there and I think we can make it happen this time.”