Iron man calls for action against dangerous intersection - KBJR 6 Your Weather Authority: News, Weather & Sports

Iron man calls for action against dangerous intersection

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According to Iron resident, Allan Von Brethorst, it's not a matter of if but a matter of when frequent drivers along Highway 7 get their crash story crossing Highway 37.

He said he's lucky he's able to tell it.

"I look three four times both directions,there was a real small compact car right alongside the semi," he said. "And because the guy was a heads up driver he managed to miss me and ended up south bound on 7 on the shoulder of the road."

Von Brethorst lives just feet from the intersection of Highway 37 and 7 and as a resident and a former Clinton firefighter, he's seen dozens of crashes throughout the years, many of them deadly.

He said it comes down to vision. 

As you approach the intersection, only north and south bound drivers on 7 have to stop, but as drivers inch forward it can be hard to see east bound traffic, over the hill as it goes over the nearby train overpass. As if the line of sight wasn't enough, he said frequent semi traffic makes the matter worse.

"You can look all directions several times and still not see a car coming because it's blocked by a truck," he said.

According to MnDOT, this intersection has seen 13 crashes from 2006 to 2013, which they say is the most recent data available.

Traffic engineer Jim Miles said most of those are right angle crashes. 

"I did look through a number of the crash reports and that was an indication in the crash report that somebody had claimed that they did not see a vehicle and had pulled out in front of someone," he said.

That's what happened in the most recent crash. 

Just last month, a car turned in front of a motorcycle headed eastbound, killing the driver, Iron Range businessman, 60-year-old Donald Hilligoss.

MnDOT officials said they've installed a number of safety measures on the road, including flashing stop signs and warning signs but Von Brethorst said he thinks the key is slowing down traffic. 

The speed limit on that section of 37 is currently 55 miles per hour.

"We're proposing that a large 45 miles per hour sign such as they put on the Rouchleau bridge in Virginia be placed at the bridge and the same distance east of 7," he said.

Von Brethorst said when he proposed the lower speed limit, traffic engineers said it wasn't a feasible solution because it would be difficult to enforce.

MnDOT says they'll need to conduct more highway studies to determine what kind of improved safety measures to propose, such as a possible roundabout. but Von Brethorst said Iron needs a quicker solution.

"Figure they can put the sign up for a couple 100 thousand and should be able to do in two months and in the meantime," he said. "Let's hope nobody else gets killed here."

According to MnDOT, Highways 7 and 37 host thousands of drivers each day, and that particular intersection has been included in a number of statewide traffic safety reports.

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