JASPER COUNTY, Iowa -- A construction project years in the making has just about wrapped up in Jasper County. The diamond interchange on Highway 330 near Mingo is open for motorists, leaving just some secondary construction left to finish up.
The project started in 2015. It was designed to eliminate the need for motorists to cross Highway 330 at Highway 117 and County Highway F17, some of the most dangerous intersections in the state.
“Anytime you heard dispatch come across the radio and talk about an accident at 330 and F17 you knew it was going to be bad” said State Patrol Spokesman Nathan Ludwig.
When the DOT started the project there had been 11 fatalities there in 13 years.
“A majority of these where drivers that basically failed to look both ways before they pulled out into the intersection and nine times out of ten they were broadsided at highway speeds. So, if it wasn't a fatality it was a bad, bad accident” said Ludwig.
Not everyone, however, was on board for the project. Organic farmer Larry Cleverly strongly opposed it and fought for years for the DOT to find a different solution. The DOT took 60 acres of his farmland through eminent domain to build the interchange. Others in the area unaffected by construction say they're happy the change was made.
“One thing I was shocked by when we moved out here was how often we heard life flight, and once they closed the intersections we haven’t heard it” said Kaylan McCord.
McCord lives near one of the intersections that is closed off. She bought the property knowing the street she lives on would become a dead end, and with less traffic, she says it makes it safer for her family.
“We have three little kids and that would just make me super nervous to have all the trucks and semis, well cars, anything going down. We would have not wanted to live here otherwise” she said.
The Iowa State Patrol says motorists new to the interchange need to pay extra attention to signage to help them navigate the exit the first few times.