State to install traffic signal at site of fatal Highway 370 wreck -
Published Wednesday, December 11, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 8:39 am
State to install traffic signal at site of fatal Highway 370 wreck

A traffic signal will be installed at the Sarpy County intersection that was the site of the accident that killed 15-year-old Nate LaFave.

The intersection of Highway 370 and 180th Street currently has two-way stop signs for north- and southbound traffic. But the new traffic signal will require four-way stopping.

While a recent study determined a signal was not warranted, usage was close to the necessary criteria, said Tim Weander, the Nebraska Department of Roads district engineer for the Omaha area.

“Because it was so close to being warranted,” he said, “our traffic engineer recommended it.”

Weander said the new study revealed that the criteria for four-hour traffic counts was nearly met. It's likely the requirement would be met by the time the signal is installed, he said.

The signal will be installed during the Roads Department's 2015 fiscal year, which begins on July 1, 2014, Weander said.

“We'll see where it fits in,” he said.

In the Oct. 11 accident, driver Madeline Shely and passengers LaFave and Carly Anne Kelly were traveling south on 180th Street toward Vala's Pumpkin Patch when their Jeep Cherokee collided with an eastbound pickup truck at the Highway 370 intersection.

LaFave, a sophomore at Mount Michael Benedictine High School, died as a result of the collision.

Both Shely and Kelly, who are sophomores at Marian High School, suffered critical injuries and spent time recovering at Lincoln's Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital. They have since been released.

Last week, Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov filed a motor vehicle homicide petition in juvenile court against 16-year-old Shely. She also will answer allegations in juvenile court of violating a stop sign and violating her provisional driver's license.

After the accident, people who use the intersection called on the Roads Department to install a signal.

Sarpy County Board Chairman Jim Warren also said he and County Engineer Dennis Wilson asked the Roads Department to look into installing lights there.

At the time, the Roads Department said the intersection didn't meet its criteria for a signal because it had too few accidents and too little traffic volume, among other criteria. The Roads Department said it would wait until after the widening project along Highway 370 was finished to complete another study.

Weander said traffic counts were conducted in the area in November.

Contact the writer: Emily Nohr    |   402-444-1192    |  

Emily covers Papillion, La Vista, Gretna and Springfield, as well as metro-area roads.

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