Roseville's intersections -- how safe are they?

By: By Brad Smith The Press-Tribune
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Ask Kathy Ekkelboom how she feels about the intersection at Cirby Way and Melody Lane – she will tell you that it is one of the city’s most problematic thoroughfares and hopes something is done to make it safer. “Yes, I think it’s very dangerous and many people know it,” she said. “I just hope the city will do something about it before somebody gets killed.” Earlier this month, Ekkelboom’s daughter Ambur was injured and the family’s 1989 Chevy Blazer totaled during a traffic collision at Cirby Lane and Melody Way. The accident was declared “no fault,” since the investigating officer was not able to establish through independent witnesses or other means which party ran the light, Dee Dee Gunther, police spokeswoman, said. Since then, Ekkelboom has taken her concerns to both the police department and the city’s traffic engineering department, hoping that preventative measures will be taken. “My daughter was lucky,” Ekkleboom said. “Somebody else’s loved one might not be so lucky.” Ekklebloom said she has talked to the police about the issue and feels they and the city’s traffic engineers are not doing enough. “If they are doing something, then, they need to step it up,” she said. Jason Shykowski, a senior civil engineer who oversees the city’s traffic engineering, said the city is responding as best and as quickly as possible. “We’re doing everything possible to make that intersection – and others in the city – to be as safe as possible,” Shykowski said. “We’re trying a number of different solutions.” The reality is Cirby Way has a high rate of traffic flow, he said. With high rates of traffic flow, there will be a certain number of traffic collisions. The Cirby Way/Melody Lane intersection had the most collisions last year in all of Roseville, according to the Roseville Police Department. “While we do have problems at Cirby Way and Melody Lane, it could be worse,” Shykowski said. “In reality, the collision rate has been at or even below projected numbers – so, it could be worse.” Shykowski said when his department receives accident reports, he and the other engineers look for patterns or certain events that happen repeatedly in other traffic collisions. “We noted that many accidents were the result of driver error,” he said. James Spalding, who lives near the Cirby Way/Melody Lane intersection, agrees. “Nearly a year ago, my daughter was hit by a distracted driver,” he said. “The driver was on a mobile phone, talking, and apparently didn’t see the red light.” Then the driver hit Spalding’s daughter. “Everyone was lucky and I’m thankful for that,” Spalding said. “But, I’ve lived near that intersection for three years and have personally seen six traffic collisions in that time.” After his daughter’s collision, Spalding said he went to the city’s traffic engineers. “We talked for some time and I told them what I’ve seen since moving there,” he said. “Soon, I saw city crews out there, widening the street and putting up more signs.” Spalding said he is satisfied with the city’s response. “I think they’re doing the best they can,” he said. “But, it might be a problem that won’t be resolved quickly.” Lt. Michael Doane with the Roseville Police Department said the traffic division has responded by increasing high-profile presence and basic law enforcement. Dee Dee Gunther, police spokeswoman, said that since Jan. 1 of last year, traffic officers have issued 1,888 traffic citations on the stretch of Cirby between Riverside and Foothills, including 35 citations for red-light violations. “With high volume traffic areas, you will find some drivers speeding or driving carelessly,” Doane said. “By having us out there, hopefully that will cause people to be a little more cautious, as well as thoughtful and aware of their surroundings.” Shykowski said the positioning of the Cirby Way/Melody Lane and the nearby Cirby Way/Riverside Avenue traffic lights have been discussed. “Approaching those lights can be confusing for some,” he said. “People look at those two different sets of traffic signals and wonder which light is which or who has the right of way.” Doane said the majority of the collisions happen when those driving eastbound run the red light. Shykowski said that special lenses have been placed in the Cirby Way/Melody Lane and Cirby Way/Riverside Avenue lights. “Let’s say you’re heading east on Cirby Way, approaching Melody Lane,” he said. “You’ll only be able to see the first intersection’s lights, not the second one a short distance away.” While he hopes this plan will work, Shykowski said he is always willing to listen to the public and hear what they have to say. “I do have an open door policy,” he said. “Please come in and tell me what’s wrong and we’ll do our best to fix it.” Ekkelboom hopes that the city’s traffic engineers and police focus more energy on fixing the problematic intersections. “I hope they do and I hope they fix things soon,” she said. “I hope they do it before someone gets killed. By then, it’s too late.” ========== Roseville's Top 5 Hazardous Intersections based on data taken from Nov. 1 2008 to Nov. 1 2009 (Source: Roseville Police Department). 1. Cirby Way/Melody Lane -- 23 traffic collisions. 2. Cirby Way/Riverside Avenue -- 21 traffic collisions. 3. Cirby Way/Sunrise Avenue -- 21 traffic collisions. 4. Galleria/Roseville Parkway -- 17 traffic collisions. 5. Douglas Street/Sunrise Avenue -- 16 traffic collisions. ========== Brad Smith can be reached at