It doesn't look especially lethal, but the not-quite-perpindicular, cross-shaped and very ordinary seeming intersection of highways 136 and 148 just beyond the northeast corner of Maryville is one of the most dangerous in the five-county region.
That is according to statistics compiled since 2008 by the Northwest Missouri Regional Council of Governments, which hosted an observation session at the crossroads Wednesday for representatives from the Missouri Department of Transportation, Nodaway County Commission, Missouri State Highway Patrol and a handful of regional planning agencies.
NWRCOG transportation planner Dana Ternus presided over the session, which began with a brief meeting at the Nodaway County Administration Center before participants donned day-glow safety vests, picked up cameras, clipboards and water bottles and headed out to the junction.
Collectively known as the Transportation Advisory Council, the group visited the intersection as the first step in an effort to make it safer. According to Ternus, the crossroads is this year's winner of a sort of region-wide "most dangerous" contest that seeks out highway trouble spots across Nodaway, Holt, Atchison, Gentry and Worth counties.
Once all the information is studied, the group will make recommendations to MoDOT calling for improvements that can range from improved signage to new turning lanes. The department studies the recommendations before deciding what action, if any needs to be taken.
Though the 136/148 junction failed to produce any fatalities during the study period, it has been the site of nine wrecks, two of them "disabling," between 2008 and 2011. Statistics are not yet available for 2012.
Of the other mishaps, one resulted in minor injuries and six were classed as "property damage only."
Five of the nine accidents have been right-angle collisions, which Patrol Sgt. Doug Black said means that, "Typically somebody has pulled out in front for whatever reasons."
Just what makes the intersection so dangerous is something of a mystery, since there are ample lines of sight in all directions. Highway 148 is controlled on both sides of the much-busier 136 with stop signs, one of which, facing north, is capped by a flashing red light.
In addition, the southbound lane of 148 on the north side of 136 is equipped with "rumble strips" designed to alert drivers that they are approaching a crossroads
But Wednesday's tour was not intended to produce any specific recommendations. The idea, rather, was to get advisory council members to start thinking about possible solutions.
"We just want to come up with some different ideas, that's the main thing," said Nodaway County North District Commissioner Robert Westfall. "We want to try and make things better."