Friday, May 6, 2016

Boone County pushes for lights at dangerous intersection

By Adam Poulisse
Staff writer

Posted May. 5, 2016 at 10:02 PM

BELVIDERE — When Pamela Gustafson first moved to the corner of Squaw Prairie and Poplar Grove roads some 40 years ago, there wasn't much traffic. She could be outside without fear of a wreck ending up in her yard.
That's changed.
"The population has increased out here, and therefore, there's more traffic as opposed to what it was in 1973," she said. "When I moved here in 1973, you could stand in the middle of the road and not get yourself killed."
Last year, there were five crashes at the rural Boone County intersection where two stop signs halt traffic on Squaw Prairie Road. This spring, there have been two: One person was injured on March 27, after an eastbound vehicle ran a stop sign on Squaw Prairie; and on March 31, four people were hurt after a westbound vehicle on Squaw Prairie pulled out in front of a northbound vehicle on Poplar Grove Road.
There have been 23 crashes at the intersection since 2004, according to Boone County.
County Board members now want the intersection made safer by adding flashing lights and rumble strips. They also want a speed study conducted. The roads and signage are controlled by Belvidere and Bonus townships and the Boone County Highway Department.
The county Roads and Capital Improvements Committee recommended Tuesday that the County Board ask the townships and Highway Department to make the improvements. The County Board will vote on the recommendation on May 18.
If the measure is approved, Belvidere Township will be asked to add an amber flashing light on the "Stop Ahead" sign west of Poplar Grove Road, and rumble strips on the pavement.
Another letter would be sent to Bonus Township requesting an amber flashing light on the "Stop Ahead" sign on the east side of Poplar Grove Road. A request for a speed study along Squaw Prairie east of Poplar Grove Road also would be made.
Committee Chairman Brad Stark said it's important to know how fast drivers are going in that area.
“It’d be more data to our arsenal,” he said of the speed study.
The committee on Tuesday also asked County Engineer Rich Lundin to install flashing red lights on the two stop signs on Squaw Prairie Road.
"They're on order. As soon as we get them up, they'll put them up," Lundin said. "We have one flashing red light on hand, just in case another goes out."
Gustafson expressed her concerns to the committee on Tuesday. This is familiar territory for her; around 1999, she campaigned for rumble strips on Squaw Prairie. They eventually were installed, but have since been paved over.

“The cost of doing what I would like to see done (is) minimal compared to saving a life," she told the committee. "I’m sure we could afford to do it. I just don’t get why we can’t get this done.”

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