Economic loss might seem like an unusual—perhaps even crass—way to measure the impact of traffic crashes that can result in life-threatening injuries.
But considering the resulting costs of medical bills, property damage and police response, economic loss is one way to capture the severity of a given incident, said Ahna Bizjak, a senior engineer for the city.
Economic loss and other crash data formed the foundation of Janesville’s successful grant applications to make safety improvements at three intersections.
The money will pay for upgrades at the intersections of Memorial Drive and Washington Street, Milwaukee Street and Randall Avenue, and Racine Street and Randall Avenue.
Each of those three appeared on a list of the city’s 10 intersections with the highest economic loss between 2013 and 2017. The list was compiled after a study funded by a local chapter of the Federal Transit Administration.
The study did not consider any Janesville intersections that involved state or federal highways. Those likely would have filled the top 10 list because of high traffic volume and would have required coordination with other agencies to make improvements, Bizjak said.
None of the top 10 intersections recorded a fatal accident during the five-year period.
Federal and state grants, allocated through the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program, will cover 90% of costs at each of the three intersections. The city will cover the rest, she said.
Early construction cost estimates are $400,000 at Memorial/Washington, $310,000 at Racine/Randall and $305,000 at Milwaukee/Randall.
Racine/Randall is scheduled for 2021 construction, while the other two are planned for 2022.
Each will get new traffic signals with larger bulbs and reflective backing to improve visibility. Countdown pedestrian timers will be installed if they aren’t already in place.
Some legs of each intersection could receive dedicated left turn lanes, and the Memorial/Washington crossing might get an island, Bizjak said.
The three junctions ranked fourth, fifth and seventh on the list of costliest intersections. But none of them were on the city’s docket of future projects, she said.
Four of the 10 intersections, including the top three, involved Court Street. That road is already slated for reconstruction at an unspecified date, so it made sense to wait to implement big repairs, Bizjak said.
As a short-term fix, the city will consider fresh pavement markings or more signs.
Besides the three successful grant applications, Janesville also submitted one for the Five Points intersection. That application is still under review.
Five Points includes Highway 51, which the state Department of Transportation plans to resurface in the next few years. The project stops just shy of Five Points, but city officials would like to see the projects tied together, Bizjak said.
Even though the economic loss study will cover only three intersections for now, having the data in the city’s back pocket will help Janesville chase future grants for upcoming projects, she said.