Residents of a Scott County neighborhood are renewing their push to get a traffic light or roundabout installed at an intersection where a recent crash killed a 14-year-old boy.
A woman heading north on Natchez Avenue allegedly ran a stop sign on the morning of Feb. 3 and broadsided a vehicle heading east on 185th Street in Credit River Township. The intersection was closed for nearly six hours as authorities investigated.
Samuel Foltz, a passenger in the eastbound vehicle, was killed and his father, Jason, was injured. The woman who collided with the Foltzes’ vehicle was hurt, as was a woman in a third vehicle involved in the crash.
It’s not clear if a stop light would have prevented the crash that foggy morning. But those who live nearby say a signal is warranted because they have seen far too many near-misses as motorists on 185th whiz by at 55 mph or faster while drivers on Natchez attempt to cross or turn onto the four-lane county road.
“You are risking your life when you pull onto 185th,” said Jesse LoVerme, who has had plenty of close calls and witnessed hundreds of others in the three years he has lived in the area. Crossing, he said, “is like playing a Frogger video game. It’s the most hazardous intersection I have ever experienced.”
From 2015 through 2017, there were two nonfatal crashes at 185th and Natchez, according to Scott County traffic engineer Mark Callahan. Figures for 2018 are not available yet.
Anywhere from 17,000 to 20,300 vehicles pass through the intersection daily, according to the most recent traffic counts.
Rebecca Nomeland, who lives near the intersection, uses Natchez to get out of her neighborhood. She says traffic often backs up on Natchez because of the high traffic volume on 185th, a thoroughfare connecting Prior Lake with Interstate 35 in Lakeville. Sometimes that results in waits of 5 minutes or more and drivers taking unnecessary chances.
Drivers have to scan several lanes of cross traffic and a bike trail, plus watch out for pedestrians, she said.
“There are so many things going on at this intersection,” said Nomeland. “You’re always bracing for something to happen; I knew something horrific would. It’s so sad.”
Nomeland, LoVerme and others have brought their concerns to county planners in the past but say pleas for a traffic light, roundabout or even a flashing beacon have not produced change. The crash has spurred them to try again.
“This is a contentious issue in our neighborhood that has reached a boiling point,” LoVerme said. “Residents have been all over it. We know it’s dangerous as heck.”
Callahan said Scott County has been monitoring the intersection of 185th and Natchez and will do it again in light of the fatal crash. The fast-growing southwest metro county has limited funds to improve the county highway system, and tough decisions are constantly being made, he said, adding that safety is an important factor.
No improvements have been scheduled for 185th and Natchez, Callahan said. But the county is listening.
“Scott County staff shares the local residents’ concerns for safety,” he said. “We have been in contact with several residents and have gained their insights regarding operations at this intersection. We will continue to maintain an open dialogue with people wanting to share their thoughts.”
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