But is it just as safe? According to the 2008 MN DOT Traffic Safety Fundamentals Handbook: A conversion from 3 to 5 lanes increases crashes by 18-20%
Comparing 3-lane and 5-lane Chart shows a direct comparison of 3-lane and 5-lane roadways, from the last 10 years of Minnesota DOT data. Clearly, 3-lane roads have best statistics across the board (Crash Rate, Severity Rate, Fatal Crash Rate and Fatal + A Injury Crash Rate) when compared to 5-lane and urban 4-lane divided roadways.
Let's take a look at the history In 1998, Sioux Center's 4-lane was a safety nightmare, with 3 deaths from 1995-1997 8-year-old boy on a bike crossing near the hotel 84-year-old woman crossing near the hospital 43-year-old man crossing downtown intersection
A nationally acclaimed project In 1999, Iowa DOT helped Hwy 75 change from a 4-lane to 3-lane because of high accident rates and fatalities. It was a huge success.
Here's what changed: In the 13 years before the 3-lane conversion: 699 crashes 303 people injured or killed (3 died and 19 seriously injured) In the 13 years after the 3-lane conversion: 242 crashes 141 people were injured (zero died and only 3 seriously injured) Crashes reduced by 65%, serious injuries by 84%, fatalities by 100%
Population also changed: Sioux Center's population continued to grow and the economy continued to thrive, but traffic numbers on Hwy 75 stagnated and eventually slightly decreased. 2000 population: 6,057 2012 population: 7,048 16.4% increase in population in last 13 years
And we did more research From a 2012 Portland traffic safety study:
We also talked to experts "Sioux Center came to the Iowa DOT to calm the traffic; if you put a 5-lane in you'll be right back to those same concerns. You will see an increase in crashes. Sioux Center might have a higher than average percentage of rear end crashes currently, but rear end crashes don't cause blood on the pavement. It's the broadside crashes that do that, and that's what you get with two lanes in each direction. If you will accept the level of congestion and delay during just a couple of hours a day, there would be no reason to widen it.” --Tom Welch, retired Iowa DOT Safety Director and project manager for Sioux Center's 1999 3-lane conversion, which became a national model for safety
We listened to people Sioux Center News January polls "Do you support expanding Hwy 75 to 5 lanes?" Phone: 15% support, 64% oppose, 21% unsure Total respondents: 100 Facebook: 20% support, 76% oppose, 4% unsure Total respondents: 355 Sioux Center News March 27 poll "Are you pleased with the council's decision to table the Hwy 75 project for the time being?" Facebook: 84% yes, 16% no Total respondents: 144
We published what we learned We raised awareness of the DOT traffic numbers and the safety data through: Facebook page: www.facebook.com/ No75Expansion www.facebook.com/ No75Expansion Website: siouxcentercrg.com siouxcentercrg.com Door to door flyers Direct mailing
All to answer: "What is the problem we are trying to solve?" The city has pushed for an expansion for over a decade, when it was predicted that Hwy 75 would hit 16,000 vpd by 2007. However, the road is currently at 11,000 to 12,000 vpd depending on the cross street, with fewer vehicles than at the time of its conversion to 3 lanes. The Iowa DOT has set 15,000 as the number at which an expansion could be considered for small town roadways. Des Moines recently converted a 4-lane at 17,000 (and growing) to a 3-lane with great success. Why the rush to expand?
Petition campaign Did you know: More than 400 Sioux Center residents returned a petition to the CRG addressed to DOT Commissioners, asking to deny funding for the proposed expansion? More than 400 citizens (some estimated 500) attended the March 27 meeting. The current Sioux Center City Council was elected by just 187 voters in the November 2011 municipal election.
Growth, growth, growth... The city says it's about growth. But the data says our economy and population is growing, while traffic on Hwy 75 is not. In fact, the hospital and CoOp gas station are moving out of the downtown soon, both of which contribute to current congestion issues. We're in favor of responsible growth. How can we work together as a community with the DOT to achieve this?
Instead of addressing our questions at the March 27 information meeting, the city chose to "table the project indefinitely"
Council downplayed design In the March 27 public meeting in front of more than 400 citizens, a council member said: "Highway design is not the primary cause of accidents... accidents are almost never caused by a single failure, nor by bad highway design." He cautioned residents not to think a 3-lane is inherently safer than a 5-lane.
We believe there is a better way forward We would like to work with city leaders and the DOT to look at alternatives to address traffic congestion issues. Increase green time at lights during peak traffic hours Look into right turn lanes to help traffic flow if numbers do increase We do not believe the city is willing to do this as long as the funding is still in place for the original plan. We respectfully request that the DOT withdraw its funding for a 5-lane highway through Sioux Center.
Questions for the DOT 1. Will you assure the residents of Sioux Center that a less-safe roadway will NOT be built before traffic numbers clearly support it? 2. Will you require the city and DOT staff to clearly outline the need for this project before any further study is completed? 3. Will you require the city and DOT staff to evaluate alternatives besides the 5-lane? 4. Will you do a cost- benefit analysis for each alternative? 5. Will you conduct an updated traffic count along US 75 including signal intersections?
Thank you Thank you for hearing the citizens of Sioux Center and their concerns.