County considers closing dangerous intersection

After a recent fatality accident at the intersection of Highway 151 and Old Dubuque Road in Anamosa, the county is considering closing the dangerous intersection. (Photo by Kim Brooks)
Board of Supervisors
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

Following the death of Deputy Treasurer Shelli Gray at the intersection of Highway 151 and Old Dubuque Road in Anamosa, the county is considering its options for that dangerous intersection. 

During the Nov. 13 Jones County Supervisor meeting, County Engineer Derek Snead said it would be his recommendation to completely close the intersection to traffic. 

Snead reminded the board that the county still maintains a portion of the right of way, as does the DOT and City of Anamosa. 

Snead said several years ago, the DOT did a review of the intersection, outlining several options for the area. 

In August 1998, an article in the Monticello Express talked about the safety concerns at the intersection, noting that the DOT “had plans for a wider median area to accommodate turning traffic.” 

In September 2009, then- County Engineer Mike McClain urged the county to “to recognize and address the problems along the intersection.” At the time, McClain reported that between 2004 and 2008, there were 18 accidents, two resulting in fatalities. 

Then in January 2010, McClain shared with the Board of Supervisors that the DOT was considering a J-turn option at the intersection. This was something that had not been implemented yet in the State of Iowa. A J-turn prevents traffic from going across an intersection. 

In February of that year, a public meeting was held in Anamosa to discuss the 151 and Old Dubuque Road intersection. Options included: an oversized island to prevent left turns and a right turn acceleration lane, a bridge extending over the highway between the intersection and J&P Cycles, a frontage road that would connect with Circle Drive, and completely closing the intersection. 

In the fall of 2010, the DOT installed flashing traffic lights just before the intersection in both directions, as a safety precaution. A letter to the county read: “The traffic-activated signs use a flashing light to alert motorists on Old Dubuque Road of the presence of U.S. 151 traffic approaching the area. Although these signs are in place to assist motorists in making better decisions, motorists must still make an independent judgment and decision prior to entering or crossing the highway.” 

“It’s bad for a lot of different reasons,” said Snead of the situation at the intersection. 

With the county owning 60-plus feet of right of way, Snead said the board has the ability to close or vacate the road. 

“Even closing one lane would close the intersection,” said Snead. 

While Snead had not run the idea by Sheriff Greg Gaver, he felt Graver would be in agreement. 

“I’d be happy to investigate this further,” offered Snead. “But it’s our recommendation to close it.” 

Supervisor Jon Zirkelbach asked if the intersection could remain an exit-only? Snead said that still would not help the situation. 

During most of the sports seasons, people park along both sides of Old Dubuque Road for sporting events at Anamosa Middle School. Snead that also creates traffic issues. 

“Even with the speed limit (25mph), people drive fast,” noted Supervisor Joe Oswald. 

“Traffic is better controlled at the exit ramp at Highway 64,” said Supervisor Ned Rohwedder, who felt he could be in favor of closing the intersection. 

“Regardless of what happens, there will be some opposition,” noted Rohwedder. “With more information, we can make a better judgment call.” 

Snead said he would visit with Graver and the City of Anamosa and have more information for the board at the next meeting. 


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