MADISON (WKOW) – When a pedestrian was struck and killed by a driver Monday night, it was the sixth fatality this year on Madison’s most important road.
Police say the driver has stopped and is cooperating with the investigation. The collision occurred near the intersection of E. Washington Ave. and Lien Rd.
The fatal accident occurred less than a mile from Home Savings Bank at the intersection of E. Washington Ave. and Mendota St. Ashley Taylor, 37, was killed as she passed through E. Washington on April 3; police said the driver in this case also stopped and co-operated with the investigation.
The bank’s chief financial officer, Alan Zimprich, said on Tuesday he was not surprised to hear of another death on E. Washington. He said cars pulled off the road and hit his bank twice since last year.
“The individual flew over here, stumbled across this column here,” Zimprich said, indicating where the second clue occurred. “It all had to be replaced all the way up. In fact, rocks flew up, hit the windows; all these windows are chipped, they all need to be replaced.”
After the second crash, Zimprich said the bank installed four cement bollards at the entrance facing the intersection.
“So far no incidents,” Zimprich said. “We are waiting for someone to test it for us.”
The six deaths on E. Washington are the largest since three people died on the road in 2016, according to the Wisconsin Traffic Safety and Operations Laboratory, which is a collaboration between the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and UW-Madison.
The deaths come as Madison tries to implement her “Vision Zero” initiative, which aims to eliminate pedestrian and cyclist deaths by 2030. In a statement Tuesday, Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said, according to the city’s own data, its efforts to reduce the speed limit in stretches, increased law enforcement, and the installation of more speed signs and traffic light synchronization were making a dent in the speed problem.
“Our efforts to manage speed on the East Washington Ave. corridor are having a positive effect, reducing the percentage of vehicles traveling over 40 mph by 30 to 90% depending on time and location,” said Rhodes-Conway according to the statement. “But our efforts to understand each death and solve the problems we can solve will continue.”
The mayor’s office and police said it was too early Tuesday to comment on factors that may have caused Monday’s collision.
Whether it is measures like reducing the speed limit or installing more signage for pedestrian crossings, or more drastic measures like curbs or even lane reductions, the city must submit his plans at DOT since E. Washington is also an American highway.
DOT spokesman Steve Theisen said the agency was making progress in partnering with the city, but added that changes in public works would do little to combat distracted and reckless driving or pedestrians and cyclists who do not use crosswalks and ignore the rules of the road.
“We continue to work with the City of Madison on mitigation efforts to help prevent these tragic incidents,” Theisen said. “Through our partnership with the City, improvements to control devices (ie traffic lights / pedestrian lights) can be closely evaluated for pedestrians, cyclists, motor vehicles and now the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). “
Still, there were indications on Tuesday that the changes made so far had not done enough. The crosswalk at Lien Road displayed the “walk” signal for about seven seconds before starting the countdown. Crossing six lanes of traffic in the allotted time would be a challenge for many elderly or disabled pedestrians, preventing them from moving quickly.
Zimprich said he noticed the speed limit changes, but was skeptical that on its own it would make a significant difference.
“I still think you’re going to have the same situation,” he said. “You will have people who respect the speed limit, others do not care.”