Some Ottumwans worry intersection with Highway 149 is at risk for accidents

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 10:01 PM CDT
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OTTUMWA, Iowa (KYOU) - A call no parents wants to get from their child: they’ve been in an accident. That’s exactly what happened to Thomas Batterson. “I was at work getting ready to wrap up my shift, she called and said ‘dad, I was in an accident.’ She told me where it was and I knew right away, oh this intersection.” The intersection in question: Highway 149 and North Court, about a quarter mile north of a traffic light.

A car pulled out of the stop sign trying to turn left. His daughter couldn’t break in time or change lanes. She hit the side of the car. Batterson posted on Facebook about the accident, and it attracted attention, with people saying they wanted something done.

The City of Ottumwa has heard about this intersection before. Pubic Works director Larry Seals says it’s been brought up “numerous” times in front of the City Council. But, in fact, the intersection falls out of City jurisdiction. It’s actually part of the Iowa Department of Transportation. And they’ve taken a look at it before.

The district planner at the Iowa DOT office says they completed a survey in early 2018 for the City. They were looking to see if they could put a traffic signal at the intersection. But the data didn’t pan out. The intersection didn’t meet any of the criteria for a traffic light. That includes more orderly movement, traffic-handling capacity, reducing the frequency and severity of crashes, continuous movement, or pedestrian crossing. The planner says based on the crash history, putting a traffic signal down likely wouldn’t solve the issue.

The Iowa DOT did leave recommendations to the City that would result in a safer intersection, like stop bars and widening the road. KYOU reached out to the City to see if they’ve considered any of these options, but they have not responded as of the time of writing.

Batterson says he doesn’t think there’s a lot that can be done, except “individuals stay aware and know that this is a bad intersection.”.

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