An increase of preventable car crashes at the intersection of Linn and Johnson streets in 2020 has prompted the city to add yield signs at the intersection.

The city conducted a traffic study at the intersection a block east of Center Avenue after a complaint was filed in October by Frances Thorpe, who lives on Linn Street and reported seeing speeding and crashes in her neighborhood, according to the complaint.

Thorpe in the complaint asked for four-way stop signs but said yield signs would be an improvement.

The city uses the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices to make decisions regarding traffic signs, City Engineer Mike Payne said.

The manual recommends yield signs when intersections meet any of the following criteria:

  • 2,000 vehicles enter per day.
  • Intersection sight distance is not sufficient.
  • Five or more preventable crashes happen within three years or three or more crashes happen within two years.

Yield and stop signs should not be used for speed control, according to the manual.

Three preventable crashes occurred at the intersection in 2020, making it eligible for yield signs, according to a city traffic study.

The volume of vehicles per day is lower than the sign threshold and the lines of sight at the intersection are fair, according to the study.

The city council approved the yield signs unanimously Monday. Nobody spoke during a public hearing.

Council member Doug Marklein asked why the city should wait for traffic crashes to happen before taking safety measures as opposed to taking preventive measures.

Payne said the federal standards provide consistent, defensible reasoning for traffic signs.

It prevents decision-making about signage from being subjective, Payne said, noting a neighbor, council member and city official might all have different opinions on what is needed to improve an intersection.

Council members Paul Williams and Tom Wolfe both expressed apprehension to the effectiveness of yield signs but supported the motion because they understood the need to adhere to standards.

Others who want to report a traffic concern can call the city services center at 608-755-3110.