Warning light coming for deadly crash site
By ANDREW MCGINN
A flashing light will soon warn southbound drivers on Highway 4 of the hidden intersection where last month a 71-year-old Jefferson woman was killed in a three-car crash.
City Council on Tuesday at its next meeting is expected to finalize an arrangement with the Iowa Department of Transportation for a solar-powered flashing light to be placed on the existing sign that alerts drivers to the Greenewood Road intersection.
Lois M. Case, 71, a resident of the nearby Greenewood Homes community, died Nov. 6 in a Des Moines hospital of injuries she sustained in the crash two days earlier at the intersection.
According to a crash report, Case was northbound on the highway when she struck a southbound car while attempting a left turn onto Greenewood.
Case’s car was then struck by a third car.
Case, who wasn’t wearing a seat belt, was faulted by state troopers on Nov. 14 after an investigation.
She was buried in her native Grinnell.
The DOT will supply the light to the city, which will then have to maintain it, Michael Palmer, Jefferson city administrator, said this week.
Palmer doesn’t expect much in the way of maintenance. The solar-powered flashing lights at the four-way stop in Jefferson have so far been maintenance-free for three years, he said.
The mayor, he said, along with concerned residents, have asked the DOT for additional safety features going northbound as well on Highway 4 near Greenewood.
“Being a state highway, that’s under their jurisdiction,” Palmer said.
However, the DOT has ruled out an additional sign or extra light northbound, according to Jefferson Police Chief Dave Morlan.
The DOT didn’t respond to requests for comment.
“There’s enough sight visibility by state rules that it doesn’t need a sign,” Palmer said, “but the pavement kind of disappears.”
Both Palmer and Morlan likened it to an illusion.
Johnetta Harms and other local residents have been pushing for nearly a decade for increased safety features at the intersection.
A group of residents started a petition seven years ago, she said, after a crash there severely injured a woman she attended church with.
“It’s a good start,” Harms said of the move to place a flashing light on the southbound sign.
But, she added, “We need something for the north.”
Morlan said that intersection hasn’t historically been a bad one, averaging one crash a year at most.
But, he said, the area’s high rate of speed — the speed limit changes from 45 to 55 mph — can be particularly problematic.
“When there is one (a crash), there’s a higher likelihood of injuries,” Morlan said.
Fatal car crashes in Jefferson are a rarity — Case’s death was only the third within the city since 1996, Morlan said.