The Department of Transportation and Public Facilities is seeking community input on how to reduce the number of crashes at the Egan/Yandukin intersection, or the Fred Meyer intersection.
“We understand how critical that infrastructure is,” said Christopher Goins, design group chief for DOT’s southcoast region. “This is the key link between the Mendenhall Valley, Lemon Creek and downtown. We are all impacted.”
While there haven’t been any fatal accidents at that intersection, DOT said there have been six major injury crashes there in the past 13 years. Major injury crashes require someone to be transported to the hospital afterward.
More than half of those crashes happen between November and January, and DOT officials believe that has to do with less daylight and harsher weather. Forty-six percent of crashes there involve vehicles making left turns across Egan Drive.
“This time of year it’s a lot darker and environmental conditions change,” James Brown, engineering manager at DOT’s southcoast region, said.
The staff at DOT agree that something needs to be done. The problem is what, and how are they going to pay for it. Previous projects on Egan Drive have been funded by the Highway Safety Improvement Program, according to David Epstein, regional traffic and safety engineer. HSIP is a speacial pot of money, Epstein said, meant to fund projects that save lives and eliminate the cause of serious injury crashes.
Across the state, there’s roughly $67.2 million in the HSIP fund, Epstein said. The issue is that the various regions in the state are in competition with one another. Because other regions have much larger populations than the southcoast region, they tend to use up a large amount of that fund.
Another issue for DOT is that on paper, the Egan/Yandukin intersection appears to be an average intersection.
“The data is telling us the incidents and severity is average,” Brown said. “It’s very visible when people go through, and because of the way the corridor is set up, there’s a chance you could be sitting there for a while.”
So while the intersection may appear to be average just by the numbers, its impact on the community is significant. That’s why DOT officials said they want community input on possible solutions.
“DOT cannot make the decision for the community,” Goins said. “You don’t have to go too far to find out there’s a lot interesting ideas.”
DOT is hoping that by coming up with an alternative with strong community backing, they can make a strong case to secure the necessary funding.
DOT will be holding a public open house on Tuesday, Nov. 19 at the Nugget Mall Community Room from 4-7 p.m.
DOT has also set up a website for the project.
In the meantime, DOT officials encourage the public to be extra vigilant while traveling, and to take care when making left turns across Egan Drive.
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.