Lyon Co. hears update on road safety plans

Crash data highlights single-vehicle risks

MARSHALL — The majority of severe car crashes in Lyon County happen on rural roads, according to crash data analyzed for a new county road safety plan.

In a presentation to Lyon County commissioners this week, transportation engineer Mike Kondziolka said 92% of severe crashes in Lyon County happen on rural county roads.

“Most prevalent are single vehicle, run-off-the-road crashes,” Kondziolka said.

Data on where and how crashes happen in Lyon County will be used to update the county’s safety plan, and prioritize places for future road improvements.

On Tuesday, Kondziolka, senior transportation engineer for Alliant Engineering, and Girma Feyissa, traffic safety engineer with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, gave a remote presentation on the road safety plan for commissioners.

“The purpose of this project was to update the Lyon County road safety plan,” Feyissa said.

Lyon County’s first county road safety plan was completed in 2011, said County Highway Engineer Aaron VanMoer. “We have leveraged that safety plan, with its identified projects, to receive quite a bit of safety improvements around the county with state and federal funds,” VanMoer said.

But at the same time, Kondziolka said, “Over a decade has passed, so there is a need to update the data.”

Alliant and MnDOT have been working on the updated plan, which Feyissa said should be completed by the end of the month.

VanMoer said the final safety report will include information on different types of crash risks on different roads around Lyon County, as well as a list of high-priority areas for safety improvements.

“The counties can use those recommended projects as kind of an ‘easy button’ for applications for federal improvement funds,” VanMoer said.

Kondziolka said work on the updated safety plan has included a review of Lyon County roads, curves and intersections, and crash data from the past five years. A 2018 safety workshop with local stakeholders also gathered feedback that was used in the planning process.

Based on crash history data for Lyon County, the vast majority of severe crashes in the county happen on rural roads, Kondziolka said. He said some of the most common kinds of severe crashes involved vehicles leaving their lane of traffic, and running off the road. Other priorities included lane departure crashes on curves, and right-angle crashes at rural intersections.

Commissioner Rick Anderson asked how many severe crashes involved agricultural equipment.

“Can that be something that can be built into safety?” he said.

“I think that there may be data on that within the state system. It’s not something we’re specifically looking at within this process, but it is something that I think is categorized and there would be data for,” Kondziolka said.

Tuesday’s presentation didn’t get into details on the specific places in Lyon County where road safety projects would be recommended. However, Kondziolka said the draft results did list the types of projects that could help prevent crashes in Lyon County. The list included adding enhanced edgelines to straight segments of highway; adding chevrons or arrows on curves; and reviewing and upgrading signs at rural intersections.


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