Merced County Tip List: Winton corner is dangerous

February 16, 2012 

A Winton man complained in an email that turning onto Santa Fe Drive from Winton Way was unsafe.

He said people are using a loose shoulder to turn onto Santa Fe.

"This is a very tight turn. There is only one lane for going straight or turning right at this intersection," he wrote in the email. "People who can't wait use the loose gravel and almost hit other cars and pedestrians. It is unsafe and something needs to be done about this unsafe area."

Paul Fillebrown, public works director for the county, conceded that it's a tight intersection but if people are obeying the law, it shouldn't be a problem. The county is in charge of the intersection, as Winton is not an unincorporated city.

"If people are going outside the properly marked lanes, they're violating the law," he said. "You can't have both left turning arrows going at the same time on Winton Way. The railroad is involved there as well."

From 2007 to 2009, there were 12 accidents at that intersection, according to Fillebrown. In 2007, there were three rear-end accidents. In 2008, there were six accidents, five of which were rear-end accidents, and one was a broad-side accident. In 2009, he said there were two accidents where cars may have hit objects off the road.

"Those may not be related to the intersection," he said of the 2009 accidents.

Fillebrown said it wasn't unusual for a signal intersection like Winton Way and Santa Fe to have that number of accidents. He said nothing needs to be done, based on the types of accidents occurring at that intersection.

California Highway Patrol Officer John Patterson said that in 2011, there were no accidents in the intersection, but one did happen about 50 feet from the intersection. In 2010, there were no accidents, but there was one about 200 feet from the intersection. In 2009, there were no accidents reported at the intersection.

Based on statistics alone, he said the intersection didn't seem to be unsafe.

"Fortunately, we have not had any fatal traffic collisions there in the past three years," Patterson said. "It's a four-way intersection; speeds in that area are not typically high."

He said accidents in that area could range from someone not paying attention to a driver going too early or someone slowing down too late. But, nothing serious has happened because of the low speeds approaching the intersection, he said.

What's the problem: Unsafe turning onto Santa Fe from Winton Way.

Who's responsible: The county is in charge of that intersection, but county officials have said there's a fairly low accident rate for that intersection.

What's being done: Paul Fillebrown said nothing official needs to be done, based on the types of accidents occurring at this intersection.

Tip off the Tip List!

If you see something broken or in need of repair in your neighborhood, call the Sun-Star Tip List reporter, Ameera Butt, with your tips at (209) 385-2477 or email abutt@mercedsunstar.com.

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