Safety concerns regarding two horizontal curves on F31 about 4 miles east of Minburn were addressed by the Dallas County Secondary Roads Department during a recent Dallas County Board of Supervisors meeting.
"To us, it’s not a question of if it is necessary," Dallas County Engineer Jim George said. "We have 35 mph curves, and if you picture someone coming out of Minburn with the road being straight as arrows, then hitting two, steep 90 degree curves is dangerous."
According to George, a recent Minnesota D.O.T. risk assessment of 19,730 curves found that "…over 50 percent of all severe (fatal and serious injury) road departure crashes occurred in horizontal curves whereas curves made up only approximately5 percent of the system by mileage within the state."
Three accidents have occurred on the curves in a four-year period, and currently there is an Iowa D.O.T. safety grant available to the county by Aug. 15. If deemed a definite safety improvement, the county could receive up to $500,000 to go toward the project.
According to George, the project should qualify for 100 percent funding.
Bryan De Jong, assistant to the County Engineer, said straightening out the curves is a more "proactive" approach and could help eliminate future accidents.
Both proposals presented by Secondary Roads included a 1500’ radius curve, but upon recommendation the board approved option two which included better F31 alignment, better alignment with S Ave.-the intersecting road, and purchase of 8.5 acres of right-of-way. The second option allows the vacation of 7 acres of existing right-of-way that can be returned to agricultural use.
Straightening out the road would mean the loss of land for Earl Royer and Dan and Linda Brewer-two landowners whose property is along F31.
"None of these property owners are going to be happy about his, but we would start right away, within the next few months, on negotiations," De Jong said. "The reason why we are making a recommendation is because the window of opportunity is so small and this could be a significant safety improvement to Dallas County."
The board approved the recommended alignment, and the property owners will receive right-of-way acquisition documents in February prior to contact by county personnel.
Grading on the project will be completed Spring 2015 and paving for the entire project which includes Minburn to R22 is scheduled for Spring/Summer 2016.