Published On: Thu, Sep 5th, 2013

Fire officials express need for more rural stop signs

HARTINGTON — More signage is needed on some well-traveled county roads, County Commissioners were told at their Aug. 27 meeting.

Dan Steiner, president of the Hartington Fire Department, and a group of fireman approached the Commissioners to ask if they would install stop signs at some of the major county road intersections.

Steiner’s main concerns were those county gravel road intersections where no signage is in place. He said this is a problem in a lot of areas.

Highway Superintendent Carla Schmidt then explained the process for putting up a regulatory sign.

“Basically, any [sign] that is not yellow requires an engineering study and a resolution passed by the Board,” she said.

Schmidt went on to explain that an engineering study included putting out a traffic counter to see the “heaviness” of traffic flow for one week.

Accident history also gets checked and Schmidt goes out and checks the sight distance by taking pictures from every direction.

She said the one problem with acquiring accident history for an intersection is that all accidents are not reported to the state.

“So when you check the accident history, you’re not getting accurate data because it is not getting reported to the state for one reason or another,” Schmidt said.

The engineer will look through all this information and determine whether the intersection needs to have a stop sign or not.

The county does not have to follow the engineer’s recommendation, but they are strongly advised to do so.

And if a person’s view is obstructed due to the height of the corn, the state believes the intersection does not warrant a stop sign.

“But they tell us, if it’s not a permanent obstruction, then it doesn’t really warrant a stop sign,” Schmidt said.

In a related issue, Commissioners have been dealing with the issue of landowners planting corn and installing fence in the right of way.

They are continuing to ask people to not plant or install any fence within 30 feet of the right of way. And if someone already has, then the Board is asking them to take care of the problem themselves.

Steiner said it is frustrating because he believes the county should be able to make decisions about what intersections warrant stop signs without needing to go through the state each time.

County Commissioners said they could start with putting up traffic counter signs to calculate how busy the traffic is going east and west and north and south on the roads leading up to a certain intersection.