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A van turns left on a flashing yellow light at the intersection of Highway 12 and County N/Walworth Avenue in Whitewater. Two fatal crashes in August 2019 prompted a review of the intersection by the state Department of Transportation.

WHITEWATER — The state Department of Transportation has issued safety recommendations for a Whitewater bypass intersection that has been the site of 40 crashes since 2015, two of them fatal.

The agency performed a road safety audit on the U.S. Highway 12 and Walworth Avenue intersection after meeting with local lawmakers who raised safety concerns following two fatal crashes there in August 2019.

A crash Aug. 1, 2019, killed two girls, ages 7 and 14, and another on Aug. 9 of that year seriously injured Robert J. Volk of Racine, who died weeks later. Both crashes involved vehicles turning left onto northbound Walworth Avenue.

The DOT installed flashing yellow arrows for the left turn lane. After a study of the intersection, the agency offered these recommendations:

• Upgrade traffic signal equipment in 2020.

• Continue monitoring the intersection, specifically the northbound left-turn movement. Also consider protected left-turn phasing if problems arise again.

• Use portable video cameras to assess the adequacy of turn-lane lengths.

“The flashing yellow lights have greatly improved the safety of this intersection,” Rep. Don Vruwink, D-Milton, said in a joint news release with Sen. Janis Ringhand, D-Evansville. “There hasn’t been a serious crash since the flashing yellow arrow lights were added.”

Ringhand echoed that sentiment.

“I’d like to thank the Department of Transportation for their work on making the Walworth Avenue intersection safer and also for evaluating the safety of the bypass between Walworth Avenue to Cox Road,” Ringhand said.

“Ultimately, I believe that the bypass should be made four lanes, but in the meantime, the improvements recommended by the department are welcome,” she added.

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