MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In the past six days, three people have lost their lives in crashes on Highway 12.

The stretch of highway has been a concern since it opened back in 2008. The number of fatalities forced officials to make changes they hoped would cut down on the number of accidents where vehicles were crossing the center median.

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“The installation of rumble strips, center rumble strips as well as changing the stripe pattern, and the pattern for the striping on the center median — and after that was done, we saw a decrease in those crossover crashes,” Orono Police Chief Correy Farniok said.

But that decrease in accidents lasted about half a year. In the past six days, Highway 12 has seen two accidents that claimed three lives.

“The car was rear-ended by a full sized motor home pulling a very large enclosed trailer at highway speed — 55 miles per hour,” Chief Gary Kroells of West Hennepin Public Safety Department said.

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Another man lost his life on Aug. 20 on Highway 12 and County Road 92, near Independence. Two days later, near Luce Line Trail in Orono, a 25 year old woman and 69 year old man, were killed.

A year ago, a coalition of police chiefs and mayors, along with MnDOT officials, formed to address safety on the stretch of Highway.

“We have an audit — a Highway 12 safety audit — that we have been working,” Farniok said. “The final draft is soon to be out.”

The audit recommends short, medium and long term goals. From adding a roundabout, to developing passing lane sections in rural areas, members of the coalition hope the recommendations can lead to improvements that save lives.

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The audit will be made public soon. Concerned citizens are always welcome to add their input on what improvements they think should be made. The next safety meeting will be held on Sept. 10.

Reg Chapman