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Ask Mr. Answer Person: Turning lane on HIghway 9?

Posted: Tue, Mar 5, 2013 4:19 PM

Judy e-mails Mr. Answer Person: "OH MY, WHY is there not a turning lane on Highway 9 east at the entrance of Gundersen Decorah Clinic? Seems very unsafe!"

Mr. Answer Person says: "It's certainly an adventure turning left not just into Gundersen Clinic, but into the Bow String Bridge Park and turning left when westbound into Decorah Chevrolet and Decorah Auto Center.

Safety issues about that corridor of Highway 9 were discussed in 2005 by the Decorah City County when Gundersen submitted a site plan for its clinic.  There was a lengthy discussion at that time about the difficulties traffic would have turning left from Highway 9 into the entrance to Gundersen Clinic and the other businesses along the north side of the highway.

The Decorah City Council decided to approve the site plan for the medical clinic.  In part its vote was based on the belief that the installation of traffic lights at Highway 9 and Old Stage Road would produce a break in the flow of cars that would allow eastbound traffic to turn left without having to worry about approaching cars.

That stretch of the highway has seen a few accidents and even one fatality.  But there hasn't been any discussion among city officials in recent years about the highway.  In large part that's because there really aren't many options available.  Adding a middle turn lane in both directions, for instance, would require additional property and probably even some fill to bring the roadbed high enough. 

So to answer your question, yes, turning left on Highway 9 can be frightening at times but, no, there are no plans to add a turning lane at this time.     

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