Mom wants safer intersection at Tower Road and Old Hwy. 35
Tiffany Walrack of Hudson has taken on the mission of improving the safety of one particular intersection in the town of Troy.
“On October 2, 2010, our family was nearly killed at the intersection of Old Hwy. 35 and Tower Road,” Walrack said. “The other driver was speeding and ran the stop sign. He T-boned our mini van at, what we were told, 57 mph.
“At the time our three (the family now has four) children were 23 months, 23 months and 3 years old. The moments immediately after the impact were darkest and most terrifying moments of my life.”
The same intersection was the scene of a fatal accident on Oct. 19, 2013, that took the life of a former River Falls man and one of his teenage children. Two other children were injured in the accident. The Mazda sedan he was driving on Tower Road failed to stop and was struck broadside by a minivan on Old Hwy. 35.
“Being lucky enough to be a survivor of this, I feel compelled to pursue public awareness of this dangerous spot,” Walrack said. “I am compelled by the memories I carry with me, by the beautiful and priceless smiles of my children and out of respect for the two people who died there three years later.”
In some respects, Walrack has an uphill battle. Despite the serious accidents at the intersection, it is neither a highly traveled road, nor a spot with a high accident rate. The St. Croix County Sheriff’s Department reports only a handful of accidents in the past few years.
Walrack, however, isn’t looking for anything dramatic.
“Anything would help,” she said. “rumble strips, extra or bigger stop signs, a four-way stop or a roundabout.”
Since the intersection is technically in the town of Troy, Walrack went to the town of Troy Board in November 2013.
This is what she said to the board: "I am here tonight to request a review of this intersection. I am here to request that additional safety measures be implemented. I request that considerations be taken, not only for the physical aspects of the intersection...clear sight distances, etc., but of usage. How drivers are using it. Drivers on Tower are not randomly running this stop sign, they are habitually running this stop sign."
Interestingly, when this reporter was talking with Walrack at the intersection on a Monday morning we saw a car run a stop sign. A car traveling west on Tower Road ran the stop sign and made a right turn north onto Old Hwy. 35, forcing a north bound pickup on Old Hwy. 35 to stop (despite having the right of way).
The Troy Board was respectful, but did nothing to really improve the intersection. In the end, the board said it would request extra sheriff patrols to keep an eye on the location.
Troy Supervisor Dave Hense said the only change to the intersection in the last four or five years is it went from a three-way intersection (T intersection) to a four-way intersection when the Tower Road overpass was constructed. Drivers on Old Hwy. 35 have always had the right of way.
Hense acknowledged the town could add additional stop signs on Tower Road so drivers see two signs as they approach the intersection, but he said he didn’t think that would solve the problem.
“We have an epidemic of crummy drivers that do not obey stop signs,” Hense said.
Walrack said she avoids the intersection regularly since her family’s accident in 2010 and still tears up talking about it.
“I drive out of my way to avoid using this intersection,” Walrack said. “When I was told of the 2013 accident my stomach dropped. I was sick. I knew that I had to do something.
“I know there are other dangerous intersections, but I have to make this tiny spot on the map safer. Safer for my family, for your family and for all those people who drive down Old Hwy. 35 and are unaware of the dangerous spot ahead.”