Des Moines South Side Residents Petitioning for Stoplight at Busy Intersection

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- People in a south side neighborhood are begging Des Moines to put a stoplight up at what they call a dangerous intersection. They've gone so far as to petition the city.

Residents turned in a petition with over 750 signatures asking the city to consider putting a stoplight or at least a crosswalk on the corner of SW 9th Street and Davis Avenue. They say it’s imperative something gets done immediately, before another pedestrian is killed.

Over two years ago, a 12-year-old boy was tragically struck while trying to cross the street and was killed. Now, flowers are attached to a nearby light pole, watching as car after car whistles by.

“You can feel the wind when the cars go by, they’re going so fast,” Clark Way said.

Way owns the Angry Goldfish Pub and Eatery on this same corner and says something better be done quick before we see another person hurt. He uses his security cameras to track just how many people are trying to dodge speeding traffic on this narrow, winding road to cross the street.

“Two Saturdays ago, I had 258 people who crossed that street. Last Saturday, I had 178 people, and that’s from 11 o’clock to when it’s dark and I can’t see anymore,” Way said.

Many of his customers have to cross the street to grab a bite to eat, but so do the hundreds of residents who want to take advantage of the $4 million newly renovated MacRae Park.

“We can’t get to it without risking life and limb to get across Southwest 9th. It’s a shame,” Way said.

Frank Strong is also pleading for a stoplight at this intersection because he is blind and relies on walking to get to his destinations.

“The only way I can cross this intersection is with some help or if I can get to a traffic light, then I can cross with a light, but there’s nothing here close,” Strong said.

His wife was also injured in a car accident at this very intersection not long ago.

“She was trying to turn left onto Davis Avenue to go west and she was rear ended by a driver who was going too fast,” Strong said.

The city did reduce the speed limit on this stretch of SW 9th to 30 mph late last year, after a study found 89 crashes near this intersection, most of them involving light poles that sit right next to sidewalks.

Sgt. Paul Parizek says the Des Moines Police and the city work to find the right solution in these high traffic areas.

“You’ve got such a mix there with the park and the businesses and the residential homes and the school a little bit further down the road. The city comes up with a lot of creative strategies,” Parizek said. “They are going to do what’s best for everyone that’s down there, and we don’t want to increase the burden on the taxpayers.”

Parizek says it would cost about $200,000 to put in a stoplight there, and a recent study done by the city back in September determined that intersection did not warrant one because both vehicle and pedestrian volume wasn’t high enough. But Way disagrees.

“Come sit on my patio, come sit on the street corner, drive up and down the road,” Way said. “There’s no need to do any more studies. It’s blatantly obvious to anyone that’s here how terrible this intersection is.”

Way and Strong say there are many factors that the study didn’t include like the construction on Fleur Drive currently bringing more traffic to SW 9th, and the 600 more kids who will be attending Lincoln High School in the fall that’s just two blocks away.

Councilmember Josh Mandelbaum referred Channel 13 to the city engineer who did the recent study on the intersection. At the city council meeting, Mandelbaum did say they would pass the petition onto the city manager and see if there is more studies that can be done to find a solution for this intersection.

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