THE PILOT EDITORIAL - 110 curve; a petition for life

Thursday, September 6, 2001

The framers of a new local petition to get something done about the "Highway 110 curve" near the municipal airport say that there have been accidents, injuries and close calls in that vicinity over time.

Honestly, we have always been surprised there have not been many more, and of the fatal variety. Everyone who travels that way knows it is an accident waiting to happen.

There are not many places in Iowa's generally very good highway system where a swerve such as this one is permitted in a high-speed, high travel area.

A car traveling south out of Storm Lake, going to the airport or accessing the C65 county road to loop around the lake must make a little jog directly across the path of oncoming traffic, at highway speed, in the midst of a curve, with no real signals or warnings, and with limited visibility to boot.

Under the best conditions, it's a nervous little situation, easily confusing to lake visitors and other travelers unfamiliar with this stretch of road.

When crops further compromise visibility; or rain, snow or ice make sudden slowing difficult; or if oncoming traffic is moving too fast, it is downright dangerous.

When petitioner Byron Crippin called to tell about the petition, all he had to say was "the curve," and we immediately knew what he was speaking of. For most of you reading, you may need no more description than "Highway 71 curve" to picture the problem - and that should tell us something about where this strange road condition sits in our collective consciousness.

Hardly a time passes when we make that curve in traffic that we don't try to picture what could be done to reconfigure it, or at least to improve visibility and signage. It isn't an easy fix, and it is not in the conservative nature of many Storm Lakers to call for unnecessarily expensive highway projects at taxpayer expense, additional traffic controls or signals that are not absolutely needed, or compromising of private land use in the area of a problem spot.

We would hope that many, many names show up on this petition before it is done. Perhaps this will encourage the roadway experts from the county and the state to look at the curve in a new way and perhaps find a reasonable, affordable and practical solution.

Funny thing about a petition. It is easy enough for all of us to look the other way until an issue has been thrust in front of us. If the petition is not acted on, and the next "close call" is instead the loss of someone's life, we suppose we will all share in a bit of that burden.