DOT hopes to reduce crashes at Highway 53 and River Prairie Dr.

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- "We scan crash data and saw this blip there, taking a little closer look at 53 and saw this blip there," said Greg Helgeson, a Traffic Safety Engineer with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

Helgeson is talking about traffic crash numbers. He says when the DOT was scanning through data, a section of road at River Prairie Drive and Highway 53 stood out.

Most of the crashes happen where the on-ramp to Highway 53 meets the bridge that crosses the Eau Claire River.

"What we've seen is a mix of crashes not only involving the mainline traffic making lane changes or trying to allow room for the merge to take place, but they we have accelerating traffic trying to merge in and I think that's a factor in a lot of these crashes," he said.

Altoona Police say they are calling to an average of 36 crashes each year in the area. That includes accidents on River Prairie Drive and Highway 53. So what's the solution?

Helgeson says they will be treating the bridge deck in 2014 with a solution to give it more friction, which also has small rock chips in it. He says it will help reduce crashes during the icy winter months.

"Other states have used this and it looks like a promising treatment to create a high friction surface," he said.

Kristin Rathbun travels this section of road with her kids and today was glad to learn about the project.

"I'm a cautious driver as it is, yeah," she said.

Knowing accidents can happen anywhere; glad they will hopefully happen here less.

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