by Cori Hilsgen
Stearns County engineers are reviewing the CR 2 bypass road because of safety concerns.
The new bypass road that was built to redirect traffic away from downtown St. Joseph opened last fall. There have been crashes at both the intersection where CR 2 meets 75 and where CR 2 meets Minnesota Street. A Cold Spring woman was killed at the Minnesota Street intersection in November.
According to the Public Works Department (Highway Department) Director Jodi Teich, all crashes have occurred during daylight hours.
Crash reports indicate drivers approaching from the side streets are failing to yield to traffic on CR 2. It’s not known if drivers are failing to stop or are miscalculating the amount of time they have to pull out onto CR 2. When the bypass first opened, some drivers approached the intersection as if it were a four-way stop.
The county has added intersection lighting, larger “Stop Ahead” signs and larger sized “Stop” signs. They have also installed intersection warning signs on CR2 with speed advisory limits of 45 mph, hoping this will allow drivers more time to react to vehicles pulling out in front of them.
Concerns have been expressed about the super-elevation, or the way the road tilts in one direction. Teich said they have other intersections with the same design as this one, so they are trying to determine why this one is different.
Things that are contributing to the crashes include the speed of traffic, the amount of traffic and the location and distance from the I-94 freeway entrance and exits among other things.
Teich said they recently conducted vehicle counts before SJU and CSB students went on break to ensure they had accurate numbers to determine if the Minnesota Street intersection meets the requirement for a traffic signal. She did not think that it did at this time.
The county is considering installing a Rural Intersection Conflict Warning System which cautions drivers with a flashing light when it’s not safe to enter the road.
A traffic signal is scheduled to be installed at the intersection where CR 2 meets CR 75. Teich said if the structural poles are able to be installed and no other delays occur, it’s hoped the signal will be installed by February or March 2014. She said Design Electric of St. Cloud had the low bid for the project.
Teich would like to remind drivers to slow down on the bypass road.
“I would hope drivers would slow down and drive more cautiously as they approach this and all intersections,” Teich said. “Drivers should always assume when they are approaching any intersection that cross-street traffic is going faster than it is and that other drivers might be distracted and not paying attention.”