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Rumble strips considered at intersection

Rumble strips such as these on Highway 64 are being proposed for the intersection of county roads 9 and 45 to reduce the accidents there. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

Engineers have studied a deadly intersection in northeastern Hubbard County and recommended perpendicular rumble strips to warn traffic of the impending crossroad.

On Dec. 3, 2009, two men, including a Hubbard County employee, were killed when their cars collided at the intersection of County Roads 9 and 45 in Farden Township. A third was injured when a northbound car driven by Laird Hensel rolled through the stop sign and broadsided an eastbound vehicle on County 45. Hensel and the passenger in the vehicle he struck both died at the scene.

Shortly after the crash, Hubbard County engineer Dave Olsonawski asked the Department of Transportation's Bemidji engineers to take a look at the intersection to see what could be done to make it safer.

The intersection currently has stop signs on County 45, but Olsonawski wondered whether flashing red lights should be installed.

DOT traffic engineer Bill Pirkl has preliminarily recommended the parallel rumble strips. Similar markings warn motorists of the intersection on Highways 64 and 34 in the county.

Pirkl said the rumble strips give ample warning of the intersection, and are placed in areas where motorists can drive around them if they wish.

The danger factors associated with intersections are ranked according to cost figures.

A single fatality adds $780,000 to the cost; a serious injury adds $390,000; a minor injury adds $121,000; a possible or unknown injury adds $75,000; a property damage only crash adds $12,000. Those costs are then divided by the number of years, usually three, that go into the DOT calculation.

The Dec. 3 accident caused two deaths, a serious injury and considerable property damage when the vehicles mowed over a power substation, knocking out electricity to the region for several hours.

"We can't speak to the report because we haven't seen it yet," said Hubbard County assistant engineer Jed Nordin.

"There are a couple different types of rumble strips, in-ground and above ground," he said.

Without seeing the report, he said it would not be possible to say how soon the county might implement any suggestions.

The report is due to be released sometime this fall.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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