Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Slow it down at Timmerman

Speed reductions go into effect at controversial intersection


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

An Idaho Transportation Department sign crew from Shoshone puts up new speed limit signs Tuesday on state Highway 75 north and south of Timmerman Junction. From left are ITD workers Mark Stechelin and Robert Ritchie. Photo by Willy Cook

The Idaho Transportation Department put new speed restrictions into effect Tuesday in the area of Timmerman Junction as part of an effort to reduce traffic accidents at the controversial intersection south of Bellevue.

An ITD sign crew installed new speed limits signs Tuesday near the junction of state Highway 75 and U.S. Highway 20. The speed limit is now 45 miles per hour, rather than 55 mph, for about a half mile south and north of the intersection on Highway 75. East and westbound traffic on Highway 20 is still required to make a complete stop.

According to an ITD news release issued Monday, "advanced warning beacons" will be installed later this week.

This spring, ITD will narrow the traffic lanes on Highway 75 at approaches to the junction and will install new rumble strips and new signs and lights to advise motorists of the potential hazards.

"ITD will continue to closely monitor traffic statistics at Timmerman Junction and will make additional modifications if needed," the news release states.

The changes to the junction are only considered temporary safety enhancements as ITD further studies an intersection redesign.

The intersection has come under scrutiny recently because of an increase in the number of traffic accidents. There have been three serious accidents at the intersection since June 2010, resulting in injuries to 11 people. In nearly every recent accident, the collision was caused by someone eastbound or westbound on Highway 20 who first stopped at the intersection and then proceeded through it to be struck by northbound or southbound traffic.

ITD proposed late last year to convert the intersection to a four-way stop but the idea was opposed by Blaine County officials.

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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