COTTONWOOD – “Definitely that will be a plus,” said Chief Terry Cochran, Cottonwood Police Department, on a state proposal for intersection safety improvements at Graves Creek and Twin house roads.
The Idaho Transportation Department proposes to install solar-powered beacon lights on “stop ahead” signs, along with larger stop signs at the intersection 1.4 miles west of U.S. Highway 95. The estimated $26,000 upgrade is proposed as part of the agency’s Idaho Transportation Investment Program (ITIP), a seven-year “road map” for planning and developing projects statewide.
“There have been several disastrous crashes there,” Cochran said, and several with serious injuries. One in December 2010, a collision between two SUVs, sent eight to the hospital. Cochran has long watched this location, for the last 16 years as CPD chief, and longer – for 25 years — in his dual role on the Cottonwood Volunteer Fire Department.
“That intersection is why the Cottonwood Fire Department started doing extrication about 20 years ago,” he said, spurred on around that time due to a logging truck versus car collision, and the time it took for county assistance to respond. Since then, the CFD extrication unit has developed into a well-equipped, well-trained team, he said, to quickly and safely access trapped victims in vehicle accidents.
Problems at this location — according to comments from city, county and state law enforcement officers in past Free Press coverage – are due to inattentive drivers, visibility issues and high speeds.
Cochran explained a dip or depression in Graves Creek Road can hide a car from view from Twin House. The problem comes when motorists exceed the posted 45 mph rate of speed, and with a glance in both directions decide to blow through the intersection rather than stop at the sign. The result can – and has been – a T-bone crash, “and at 60 mph, when they hit it’s a pretty hard crash with severe injuries.”
Due to past accidents at the intersection, as well as from the lobbying of a resident adjacent to the site who has witnesses repeated crashes, signage – first yield and then stop — was installed to remind motorists to be vigilant. The Idaho County Sheriff’s Office has also conducted emphasis patrols at this location.
“It’s been a problem area,” Cochran said. “Hopefully, this will help with it.”