Is This The Most Dangerous Intersection In Superior?
There are dangerous intersections and then there are dangerous intersections. And usually, the degree to which makes a particular intersection more dangerous than another is easy to see.
Most people can visualize a particularly dangerous intersection that they encounter in their travels. Sometimes that ranking is born out of it's location (i.e. a so-called "blind intersection, located on a curve); other times, maybe, that intersection is treacherous due to it's geographic placement (i.e. on the bottom or the top of a hill, or maybe on an embankment). Even the volume of traffic can create problems.
In the Twin Ports we often hear people complain about the on and off ramps that were located in the Can of Worms area - where 21st Avenue West and Highway 53 crossed and met up with I-35 and the Blatnik Bridge. The safety concerns involved with those intersections is one of the driving reasons why the Minnesota Department of Transportation has worked hard on the designs for the Twin Ports Interchange project - to alleviate some of those "blind" or unsafe intersection areas.
But what if an intersection shares none of these mentioned safety concerns and is still hazardous to travel through? What if for all intents and purposes the intersection is flat, wide-open - without visibility issues, not widely-used, but still presents traffic issues great enough that it can be considered dangerous? What if design issues were to blame? Or - said differently - what if an intersection looked good on paper but in a real life situation, a design oversight made it unsafe?
In some ways, an intersection like this might become the "most dangerous" - because the average user approaching it would have none of the usual clues to tip them off that something might be amiss.
Case in point - I present to you the intersection that exists near Menards and Aldi in Superior. According to the map, it's where 45th Street connects (and crosses) Henry Cohen Drive.
On the map, this intersection is deceiving. It looks like a 3-way intersection but it's not. If you're heading west on 45th Street - the map suggests that it ends at a "T", but that's not reality; a vehicle traveling that direction can cross Henry Cohen Drive right into the Menards parking lot - essentially making it a cross intersection.
What makes this intersection dangerous is the fact that even though there is a 4-way cross, only three of the meet-up roads have a stop sign. Traffic entering that intersection from the Menards parking lot - heading east, traffic entering that intersection from Henry Cohen Drive heading north, and traffic entering that intersection from Henry Cogen Drive heading south all have a stop sign at the connection.
However - and this is a big however - drivers entering that intersection from 45th Street (coming from Tower Avenue) don't have a stop sign; that traffic is left approaching the intersection - with the right of way - with the ability to travel straight or turn right or left. There would be no legal need to stop or yield.
This design flaw has existed at this intersection since it was installed. It has gotten worse since traffic volume has picked up in that area with the opening of Aldi a few years back.
I travel through this intersection at least once or twice a week and I can tell you from experience that I always encounter other drivers who are confused by it. I have personally witnessed the "almost accidents", the honking horns, and the rude gestures - all aimed at drivers who legally have the right of way and are doing the right thing.
And apparently, I'm not the only driver who thinks that this is a dangerous intersection. This past weekend, I noticed that someone installed a wooden sign to the pole where the missing 4th stop sign should be - pointing out the design flaw (or, "duh-sign-flaw" as they call it). Check it out:
Personally, I think that they should just make this a 4-way stop intersection; the majority of people who drive through this intersection already think that it is one.