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SEMPO discusses plan to reduce traffic deaths and serious injuries

Scott Meyer, a client service manager with the Lochmueller Group, a traffic consulting firm, left, discusses traffic safety charts with Jackson Public Works Director Janet Sanders and George Harris, a consultant for the City of Jackson. Photo by Gregory Dullum

Between 2017 and 2022, there were 13,550 traffic crashes in this region (the area covered by the Southeast Metropolitan Planning Organization, SEMPO). That is an average of more than 2,000 traffic crashes every year during the five-year study period.

In 245 of those crashes, people were killed or seriously injured (broken bones, crush injuries, burns, etc.). In 2,222 of those crashes, people suffered minor injuries. In 11,083 of those crashes, there were no injuries, but there was property damage.

SEMPO held an open house informational meeting last Wednesday evening at the Jackson Civic Center to discuss its Comprehensive Safety Action Plan and gather public input.

The plan aims at eliminating fatal and serious-injury crashes. It will combine an analysis of crash patterns with strategies to make the streets safer for all who use them, from pedestrians to bicyclists to motorists.

The plan will focus on what it calls the “high injury network.” There are a small number of roadways that experience the majority of fatal and serious injury crashes. Only 8% of all streets in the area experience 70% of all crashes, 60% of all KSI crashes, 40% of fatal-injury crashes and 65% of bicycle/pedestrian crashes. What roadways are those?

Notable streets on the High Injury Network are U.S. Hwy. 61 in both Cape and Jackson, East Main Street in Jackson, Broadway Street, North Mt. Auburn Road, William Street, Independence Street and North Sprigg Street in Cape Girardeau.

Identifying these roadways will help SEMPO set its priorities for safety improvements.

Some ideas for improvements were presented on a display at the meeting. They included constructing roundabouts, having marked bicycle lanes on streets, giving bicyclists their own path separate from roadways, increased signage for upcoming curves, stop signs and traffic signals, more visible cross walks, and more.

Visitors to the open house were invited to vote for up to five types of improvements they thought would do the most good.

SEMPO’s Comprehensive Safety Action Plan, when it is completed, will meet the requirements of the Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) Program, so SEMPO can apply for SS4A grants to help implement solutions.

The plan is still being formulated. SEMPO hopes to have it written by the end of this year.

Gregory Dullum has worked for The Cash-Book Journal for more than 25 years. Prior to becoming the editor in May 2017, he was production manager, circulation manager and reporter. Before moving to Cape Girardeau in 1988, he was editor of the Saint Louis Park Sailor, a weekly community newspaper in suburban Minneapolis, MN. A native of Minnesota, he returned there after graduating with distinction in 1978 from Ambassador College in Pasadena, CA, with a degree in mass communications. His wife, Marie, whom he met in college, is a native of Zalma, a small town in southeast Missouri. They have two grown daughters and five grandchildren. Gregory may be reached at cashbook@mvp.net.

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