Back in 1998 the city of Sioux Center projected that in 2003 traffic would increase to almost 15,000 cars per day and by 2007 traffic would grow to over 16,000 cars per day. How did they come up with these numbers? They did what every California homeowner did: they looked at previous rates of growth and simply projected that growth out into the future.

Those projections never came true. Not even close! And now in 2013 they are using the same type of projections to try to get us to believe that “in the next 7-10 years, the highway will reach its full traffic capacity” and that we need to expand now.  The council thinks that “full traffic capacity” is 15,000 cars per day. The truth is that 3-lane roads such as ours are designed to accommodate traffic in the 15,000-18,000 range.

The city council wants you to believe there has been an 18% increase in traffic from 1999 to 2007 and that’s the end of the story.  The conclusion they want you to come to is that this 18% increase in traffic is representative of Sioux Center’s growth and that we need to spend millions of dollars, invoke eminent domain to take our neighbors property, rip out decades old trees, and turn our Main Street into a dangerous, tree-less, and expensive 5 lane speedway!

It is easy to show how much we are growing when you cherry pick which years you want to calculate the data from. However, when you look at all the data the truth is revealed.

One wonders why the city council decided to mention only the years 1999-2007 and conveniently ignore the fact that traffic has been decreasing on average every year since 2003! Go back and look at the graph at the top of this page again. If the projected growth estimates from 1998 were not even close why should we believe them now in 2013? When asked if they would be willing to put this multi-million dollar proposal to a vote of the people the answer was a simple, “No.” This 5-lane speedway is going to affect all of us. We the people should have a little more say in the matter beyond listening to what the council wants. Of course it is easier to approve unpopular proposals when only the council members are voting on it.

Our Traffic Data comes from the Iowa Department of Transportation, and you can look at it all yourself.

If we build more lanes, numerous studies assert we will see more traffic, faster traffic, and more accidents, injuries, and deaths. Above 3 lanes we will go back to and beyond the level of casualties we saw in the 1990s when Main Ave. was 4 lanes. Small efforts to mitigate the increased danger like medians and bumpouts or flashing lights will not significantly diminish the increased risk since lane and street width is the biggest predictor of speed and both the frequency and severity of accidents. Plus, if we are adding lanes to reduce congestion and increase commute times through Main Ave. (by only 5 seconds with 5 lanes), adding slowdowns and choke points goes contrary to the goal of speeding up traffic! Trees and three lanes already effectively stop speeding, reduce the risk of accidents, and provide plenty of room for the low level of traffic we have.

SC after going from 4 to 3 lanes

Remember why Main Ave. was reduced back from 4 to 3 lanes after the 1990s? For SAFETY. Because people had ben killed, at about the average of one per year.

The same people who are now saying we need 5 lanes agreed ten years ago that 3 lanes turned out to be better than 4. Sioux Center even won an award and became a success story modelling the superiority of 3 lanes. We’re cited in hundreds of studies as a success story for having the system we have now. It’s not broken, it does not need to change!

ardith lein


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