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After complaints, 44/281 intersection gets new safety features

New reflective signs have been installed at the four-way-stop intersection of U.S. Highway 281 and state Highway 44 south of Corsica. (Sean Ryan/The Daily Republic)

CORSICA — Douglas County residents are encouraged by improvements made at what is known as a dangerous intersection south of Corsica.

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Earlier this month, the fourway-stop intersection of U.S. Highway 281 and state Highway 44 received rumble strips and more reflective signs to enhance safety.

Harvey Ymker, a Corsica resident and original advocate for better signage, said in June he has seen many close calls at the intersection when drivers have ignored stop signs. He and his wife have lived near the intersection for 20 years.

“I think it’ll be great. Anything they can do will be better than the way it was,” Ymker said recently in response to getting new signage. “I think with the rumble bars, it’ll make a big difference. Whatever they can do, it can’t hurt. I’m glad to see they’re doing it.”

Ymker and several other area residents signed a petition to get better signage and rumble strips at the intersection.

The age and condition of the signs at the intersection, plus public concern, swayed state officials recently to improve signage and incorporate rumble strips at the site. Three crashes occurred at the intersection in the past eight years — one in 2005, one in 2007, one in 2008 — but they were all weather-related, not due to lack of stopping at the intersection.

“The reason we updated the signing is the signage and condition of the signs supported replacement,” said Scott Jansen, South Dakota Department of Transportation traffic engineer for the Mitchell region. “That with the public concerns expressed, we felt supported in replacing the signs and also the installation of the rumble strips.”

Mitchell Area Department of Transportation workers installed signage Sept. 9 and 10, and a contractor installed rumble strips on Sept. 12, said Tammy Williams, Mitchellarea engineer for SDDOT.

The intersection of highways 44 and 281 had 48-inch by 48-inch reflective stop signs. The new signage — stop signs and “stop ahead” signs — are the same size, but have brighter reflective strips on the signs and posts, said Jansen.

“After we reviewed crash data and did engineering studies, we determined to install the new signing,” Jansen said. “Subsequent to that, we had a discussion with the DOT and the department believes rumble strips will provide some benefit at the intersection.”

He said the new reflective stips will show up better in daylight and be brighter at night.

The contractor installed two sets of rumble strips approaching the intersection — one well in advance of the intersection and one set closer.

The DOT installed signs on the state and U.S. highways — 281 is maintained by the state — but the paved road to the south of the intersection is a county road. Jansen said the DOT will contact Douglas County about the signage and rumble strips, but it will be up to them to install the same on the county road.