Friday, June 25, 2010

Find the fix

Something is wrong with the intersection of state Highway 75 and U.S. Highway 20 between Sun Valley and Twin Falls.

Despite improvements, at least one major crash a year occurs where the high-speed highways meet at Timmerman Hill.

Finding out what's wrong is more complicated than it may appear. Idaho Division of Highways District 4 Engineer Devin Rigby says the nature of the crashes there may have changed.

The intersection had been locally infamous for the failure of drivers on U.S. Highway 20 to stop at stop signs. A long series of rumble strips, a flashing red light and giant stop signs may have reduced those errors, but nasty accidents still occur. Recent ones indicate that today's drivers wrongly think the intersection is a four-way stop or fail to see oncoming traffic.

Rigby says his office will again investigate Timmerman's problems in late summer and determine if there are other measures—re-engineering to improve sight lines, for one—that could improve safety.

The ultimate fix, says Rigby, is an overpass interchange—a pricey proposition at a time when state highway funds are scarce.

The importance of finding a solution to the danger at Timmerman was illustrated last summer when 15 seat-belted people luckily walked away from what could have been a fatal crash. A two-vehicle collision last week was another wake-up call.

When a new airport generates more traffic, finding a fix will become urgent.

Highway engineers should identify the problems and act quickly to make the crossroads to the Sawtooths and the Sun Valley resort area safe.

 Local Weather 
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