Arduous intersection: Tower Drive and Afton Road
In the last six years, the accident rate at Tower Drive and Afton Road has been higher than normal. Specifically, 16 crashes were reported since 2005 and most of them were T-bone collisions.
Tower Drive will be part of a $5 million road rehabilitation project scheduled to begin this summer. Before enhancing the road, engineers began looking at ways to also improve traffic.
"We wanted to make sure there weren't other issues that we should deal with and when we started to investigate it, we did find this intersection had a fairly high accident rate for this type of intersection," said City Engineer Klayton Eckles.
Traffic congestion due to the fact that Tower and Afton are close to a major road, Valley Creek Road, are causing low visibility during morning and evening rush hours, which contributes to a higher accident rate.
Most of the accidents are property damage with few minor injuries, but the number is still high enough to anger drivers. The rehabilitation project gives the city an opportunity to solve traffic issues at that intersection while they're ripping up the road.
"Typically you'd expect maybe two or less (accidents) in an intersection like that in a year," Eckles said.
Drivers coming home from work on Valley Creek Road going east then turning southbound on Tower Drive end up colliding with vehicles going westbound on Afton Road, who can't see well enough through the line of cars on Tower Drive going north toward Valley Creek.
"So they're pulling out and then they're getting hit," Eckles said.
The department is now looking at an additional left turn lane on Tower Drive to eliminate congestion and help with traffic flow going to Valley Creek Road. But a roundabout is the "ultimate" option in the long run, said project manager Aaron Nelson.
The entire new road -- from Valley Creek to where it curves at Radio Drive -- will have a 20-year lifespan and will cost about $600,000 with $50,000 for a turn lane at Afton. That, compared with almost $1 million to build a roundabout, seems more feasible for now.
By 2030, "it would be appropriate at that time to consider a roundabout," Nelson said.
The department also looked at two other options: four-way stop signs and traffic signals. Both are now off the table as they would actually cause more issues instead of solving the problem.
Since the intersection is so close to Valley Creek Road, traffic would still be backed up down to Afton Road with a traffic signal. The same is true with four way stop signs.
"For the immediate future here, we think this will be a good addition to the intersection," Nelson said of the left turn lane.
In 20 years, the department will revisit the idea and propose a roundabout that will join the seven others built in Woodbury over the last few years.