To further open up the debate about Timmerman Junction, readers may be interested in this e-mail that I sent to the Idaho Transportation Department the day after reading about the recent accident, and their response.
"As a resident of Wood River Valley, I should like to discuss the present traffic arrangements at Timmerman Junction (U.S. Highway 20 and state Highway 75). Following yet another serious accident there on Wednesday, Oct. 27, it is obvious that the present signal control is just not working! In this accident, the people seriously affected were in a vehicle that had correctly halted and were simply waiting for another vehicle to pass through. Ironically, they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, but it is their lives that have been turned upside down!
"Coming from England, I see the obvious solution to be a roundabout to be created here. This will mean that all traffic has to slow down, and thus the traffic flow will be under control so that everyone is aware of who has priority. The other solution would be a full set of traffic lights, but controlled by a sensor, so that in times of little traffic it will not slow down the normal traffic flow. This is an advantage that the roundabout already has, as this happens naturally."
ITD has received a lot of correspondence and requests to make a change at the junction over the past few months as several crashes have injured many people. In response, ITD is currently in the process of concluding a roadway engineering study of the junction to provide potential solutions for improvement of the intersection. An overpass has been mentioned as a potential solution as well as a roundabout, but these options would require years to perform an environmental study of the surrounding wetland and to complete design work. Given the current state of financial affairs, these options would also be the most difficult to fund.
Signalization and a four-way stop remain potential solutions. Ideally, eliminating driver error at the intersection would eliminate the majority of crashes. But with the blinking light, rumble strips and enhanced signage, the intersection already has many of the low-cost features associated with reducing traffic crashes. It is expected that the engineering study, which is utilizing several independent opinions, will present different options that can be accomplished in both the near and extended future. You should expect to see more about this in the news as decisions are made.