Concerns over the safety of two 90-degree curves on County Road F31, about four 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," County Engineer Jim George said. "We have 35 mile-per-hour 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 Department of Transportation 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 approximately five percent of the system by mileage within the state."
Three accidents have occurred on the Minburn curves in a four-year period, and currently there is an Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) safety grant available to the county if it applies for the funds by Aug. 15.
If softening the curves is deemed by the DOT a definite safety improvement, the county could receive up to $500,000 toward the project, according to George. The project should also qualify for 100 percent DOT funding, he said.
Bryan De Jong, assistant Dallas County engineer, said straightening out the curves is a "proactive" approach and could help eliminate future accidents.
The proposal presented by Secondary Roads includes a 1500’ radius curve that better aligns F31 with S Avenue—the intersecting road—and authorizes the purchase of 8.5 acres of right-of-way.
Seven acres of existing right-of-way will be vacated and returned to agricultural use.
Straightening out the road would mean the loss of land for landowners Earl Royer and Dan and Linda Brewer, 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," he said.
The board approved the recommended alignment at its Jan. 21 meeting, 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 by spring, 2015, and paving for the entire project, which includes Minburn to R22, is scheduled for spring and summer, 2016.