Deadly Accidents On US-61 Prompt Road Changes - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Deadly Accidents On US-61 Prompt Road Changes

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A dangerous stretch of road is proving yet again something needs to be done. Highway 61 in Louisa County has a higher than average accident rate. 

The Iowa Department of Transportation is continuing work to re-construct the highway into four lanes. 

But in the last week alone, there were two accidents during icy conditions in the same location, one of them deadly. The first happened last Thursday and the second happened Tuesday.  

The Iowa DOT is working on a plan to turn this two lane road into four lanes, adding left turn lanes and bridges to make it safer for those who travel it everyday.  

"Now that two crashes have happened, I'm just like, what's going to happen to me?" Lakin Curry of Grandview, IA says. 

Recent crashes along the highway have some drivers in Louisa County uneasy. Those who drive this road everyday say normally, it's not hard to navigate. 

"On a nice clear day, I'm pretty sure it'd be a fine road," Amie Dacy of Grandview, IA says, "But these snow storms we've been having, it's been pretty crazy, it's easy to lose control on that road." 

Others say the road is especially dangerous for out-of-towners unfamiliar with the area, and something should have been done years ago.       

"Those curves are dangerous, it's a no passing zone, but it's also a school zone, and it should be a four lane," Bruce Workman of Burlington, IA says.

When snow hits the ground, drivers say it only makes it worse. 

"Any amount of weather when you add wind and speed and snow, it's going to have an effect on what's going on the road," Brenton McClaskey of Fruitland, IA says. 

"If there's a doubt in your mind you can't drive on it, I wouldn't," he says.

That combined with high speeds of around 55 mph makes for a deadly combination.

"It's a dangerous road, lots of lives have been lost on this stretch between Muscatine and Burlington over the years," Workman says. 

Iowa State Police say any time a four lane road replaces a two-lane, it makes things safer, decreasing the chances of running into oncoming traffic. 

"You won't have the semis and the cars right next to each other, passing each other," Curry says.

The project is moving forward to increase safety and to alleviate future traffic. IDOT studies show up to 5, 700 cars travel through the area everyday. By 2036, that number is expected to balloon to over 8,500 cars a day, putting the pressure on the DOT to get this project done sooner rather than later.

"It's criminal to leave it a two lane," Workman says. 

IDOT is having another public information meeting to discuss the project next Thursday, March 14th at 5pm in the Louisa-Muscatine Elementary School cafeteria.

Almost $30 million has been set aside for the project. The DOT plans to start acquiring the necessary properties this summer, with construction starting in 2015 and lasting four years.

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