AMES, Iowa -- If all goes as planned with an Iowa DOT $14.4 million project, some intersections at Highway 330 and Highway 117 and Highway 330 and F-17 in Jasper County will look drastically different by 2018. Iowa DOT Engineer Scott Docktader said, "Our plan is to build a diamond interchange in the middle and move all movements to the diamond interchange which will be much safer to the traveling public."
It's something Larry Cleverley from Mingo, whose family has farmed the area for over eighty years, says will directly affect his livelihood. "Their right of way needs take sixty acres of our farm and the farm's only 220 acres. That I find heartbreaking. I'd find it heartbreaking if it were somebody else's timber let alone mine," said Cleverley.
The Iowa DOT says the area has become the second most dangerous rural expressway intersection in the entire state. Dockstader said, "Over a 13 year period, we've had eleven fatal accidents. It's our job to balance the social environmental impact vs the safety of traveling public and in this case with, with eleven fatal accidents, that's an extremely high number and that's why the interchange is warranted." Cleverley does not disagree. "Nobody understands the safety better than I do. My family and myself, we drive through the intersection everyday."
Cleverley says he's gathered over 10,000 signatures on a petition against the proposal but Iowa DOT officials say there's no number that can replace the loss of a life. "In this case the safety is so paramount in our discussions that the intersection is vital," said Dockstader.
Cleverley believes there is a better solution. One that can save time, money and the lives of countless others. "All they need to do is slow the traffic down, that's going to make it safer. Rather than rushing in and taking all the farm land, and timber and my sister's house and my house," said Cleverley.
The Iowa DOT Commission Board will vote next month on whether to keep the project in their five year plan and continue moving forward.