U.S. Highways 71 and 18, both well-traveled in northwest Iowa, come together north of Spencer and stretch south through a beautiful resident community, a vibrant downtown business district, across a bridge and then split again at the south end of town. Amazing light fixtures line the roadway, providing light and adding an attractiveness that causes locals to take pride and out-of-town guests to take notice as they pass through.
Unfortunately, the roadway, in particular the north merger of the two highways, known as the Spencer Y, has been the scene of three major collisions over the course of the past week - one of which resulted in a fatality. If you want to stretch a little further, about six miles north to Fostoria to be precise, you can add two more accidents and another fatality in the last 10 days. That's five major accidents and two separate deaths.
The Y intersection has always been considered dangerous. I'm not sure exactly why. When undisturbed by construction orange, visibility in each direction ranges from a half-mile to a mile. That should be adequate. But for whatever reason, there's still been a share of accidents at the site.
Now, the stretch of U.S. Highway 71, from north Spencer to Milford, has been reduced to two lanes of travel, due to construction restrictions - minus the construction.
There is still adequate visibility, but there is obviously some kind of an issue because it's become a problem spot that, quite frankly, I'm simply just trying to avoid.
Not sure if it's traffic speed, cell phones, texting, questionable attention spans - or some sort of distracting combination - but drivers are obviously having problems at the intersection and lives are being put at risk.
Sometimes, the solution is found in simplicity.
When in a construction zone, be on the alert. Not a good time to be messing around with your phone or anything else that might distract a driver from the road they are traveling.
Consider reducing your speed. Sure the sign may say 55 or 50 miles per hour, but if you're not comfortable take it down a notch. And if you are comfortable, take it down a notch anyway. Someone around you might be a bit more skittish or twitchy.
Just take it easy. I've had to make more trips to the north Y in the past few days than I would care to, especially when I know that twisted metal is what's awaiting me when I get there.
Please be safe on the roadways, and don't turn the summer of 2012 into one to remember for all the wrong reasons.