Johnson wants second look at intersection

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By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

An intersection that has claimed at least one life and resulted in life-altering injuries to others is getting a second look for ways to prevent accidents at the request of the county commissioner for that area.

Commissioner Chad “Cracker” Johnson of Chiefland (R-District 2) said the latest accident which hospitalized two people is one of several and something needs to be done to prevent future crashes.

County Road 346A is the only road that extends across U.S. Route 129, the main highway between Trenton and Chiefland. Other County roads that meet US 129 do not cross it, but feed traffic into the flow on US 129. 

“We have put rumble strips there but it continues to be a problem,” Johnson said in Tuesday's County Commission meeting. “For whatever reason we continue to have accidents there. I want us to try and look at it and see what our options are.”

In the latest accident, Donna Capps of Trenton was airlifted to Shands Hospital in Gainesville after her vehicle collided with a vehicle driven by Karen E. Trotter of Newberry. Trotter was also hospitalized.

Capps, who was heading home because of a sick child, was cited for failing to yield the right of way.

County Road Department Administrative Superintendent Bruce Greenlee said the state Department of Transportation is already conducting a study on the intersection. 

One solution is putting up flashing signs warning of the stop signs on CR 346A and the upcoming intersection on US 129, similar to the motion activated blinking signals installed at County Road 335A and U.S. Highway 27A outside Williston. 

“The sighting distance is not the problem and there are no obstructions,” Greenlee said. “We have had very very serious accidents there.”

Prentice and Jack Spann, who live on the southeast corner of the intersection were severely injured in an accident on May 8, 2011, at the intersection and spent months recovering. 

Jack Spann says the problematic intersection cannot be fixed by blinking stop lights. “You can't fix stupid. If they don't look at the stop sign you can't fix that.

“It's people not paying attention,” he said. 

Prentice Spann said she has fussed and complained about the dangerous intersection, then when she stopped “two weeks later they had the fatality.”

She was referring to a Jan. 29, 2013, accident that left Teresa Reed Riedel, of Chiefland, dead, and  Sandra Vanessa Elviro, of Fanning Springs, seriously injured. Riedel was headed north on U.S. 129 while Elviro was headed east on CR 346A. Elviro failed to stop at the intersection, struck the left side of Riedel's car and sent it off the road where it became wedged between two trees.  Elviro was cited in the crash for running the stop sign and not wearing a seat belt. 

After that accident, Greenlee inspected the intersection and ordered new rumble strips put in that same day. Prentice Spann said the next day the strips were sorely tested when a full milk truck screeched to a halt at the stop sign. She said the truck almost tore them up trying to stop.

“This is ridiculous,” Prentice Spann said. “If you go down 346 you couldn't count all the black marks. You got semis. You got the milk trucks. And It's the only intersection between Chiefland and Trenton.”

An aerial map of the area shows agriculture and forestry dominate the landscape. The Spanns have trees along the edge of their property to deter cars propelled by accidents from coming into their yard and, possibly, their residence. 

Prentice Spann said she was told it would cost $120,000 to put up blinking lights similar to those at CR 335A and US 27A.

“People aren't paying attention. But c'mon folks, $120,000 versus a life?”