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Editorial: Traffic study needed for LT South Campus

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December 2, 2010

It's almost astonishing to hear elected official balk at a traffic study cost when for years parents and administrators have raised concerns about students crossing a busy road with benefit of a light.

The village of La Grange has gone forward with a traffic study on Willow Springs Road to determine whether a traffic light is needed and if so, where it should be located. La Grange has asked other entities, including the Park District of La Grange, Western Springs, Lyons Township High School, Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital, to share the cost. Some are questioning the cost; others have not responded. Thankfully La Grange officials have moved forward anyway for this needed study.

That is the case in front of the Lyons Township High School South Campus in Western Springs, attended by freshmen and sophomores. A few live east of the high school and many more are dropped off across Willow Springs Road from the high school, with older siblings or parents using the Park District of La Grange's Denning Park as a drop-off zone.

Students are supposed to walk to the corner of 47th Street, a few hundred feet away, to cross at that busy intersection, rather than cross the street in front of the high school. Drivers are also supposed to use the school's drop-off lanes, despite many needing to make left turns to get in or out of the lot. The reality is few do.

Yes, they should take the extra time for their own safety or safety of their children. But people often cross where it is convenient, with the attitude that they will cross safely.

No doubt that is what Cari Cook thought back in May 2009, when she crossed 47th Street in La Grange. The crosswalks on each side of the street didn't match up, causing pedestrians to walk diagonally or have to move up a curb. Cook was lifting her child's stroller up the curb when she was struck by a car.

La Grange officials had heard complaints for years from residents about close calls in that area. It wasn't until this tragic death that warning signs were added and the speed limit lowered.

As a result, La Grange has taken action elsewhere, looking at areas where pedestrians cross the street. In front of the high school is an obvious choice. With a park across the street, a hospital down the block and a crosswalk apparently too far down the block for students to use, action must be taken.

This study is a first step. La Grange officials are right to move solo, but should expect others to contribute. It shouldn't take another traffic death to spur action.

Source: The Doings - Western Springs (http://www.pioneerlocal.com/westernsprings/news/2934678,western-springs-trafficedit-120210-s1.article)
 

Residents sound off about quarry, traffic and flooding

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September 28, 2010

By JANE MICHAELS This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

A heart-stopping quarry blast, destructive flooding and pedestrian hazards were on the minds of south side La Grange residents Monday at the first of three town hall meetings.

Homeowners expressed anger and then fear over the effects of a blast measuring 2.7 on the Richter scale Aug. 31 from the Hanson Material Co. quarry at 47th Street and East Avenue.

"I was sitting at home at my desk and I almost had a heart attack," said Rosanne Welenc, who lives on the 600 block of 9th Avenue. "This is unacceptable. How do we follow up with accountability to the quarry."

Vera Catuara, who has lived on the 800 block of South 10th Avenue for 42 years, said the quarry blast was "like a bomb as opposed to a reverberation."

"I thought the blast was under my house and things would be on fire," Catuara said. "We have to constantly keep after the quarry and tell them we want more information about this specific blast."

Village Manager Robert Pilipiszyn assured residents gathered at Seventh Avenue Elementary School that quarry officials have pledged cooperation in rendering an investigation and full accounting of blasting activities. Hanson also said blasting will be suspended until the investigation is concluded.

Residents, however, said they were concerned about long-term effects of mining activities and the Aug. 31 blast, including damage to foundations and cracks in walls.

"If you have a claim, you need to file it quickly. Pursue your homeowners insurance and go that route," Pilipiszyn advised. "We're not in a position to be able to make those determinations."

Village President Liz Asperger also suggested residents call the quarry complaint hot line at 1-866-934-3278.

One homeowner objected to the fact that blasting regulations are the same in rural areas as in major metropolitan Chicago, and that it would take a change in state law to protect urban areas from mining blasts.

South side residents also applauded village officials for working to reduce the speed limit along 47th Street from 35 to 30 mph, but pressed them for greater enforcement surrounding the pedestrian crossing at 9th Avenue.

Village officials beefed up the crosswalk with flashing lights and increased signage at a cost of $80,000 following numerous complaints and the death of Cari Cook. The 30-year-old Countryside woman was struck while trying to cross 47th Street at 8th Avenue with her two young children in May, 2009.

"Without a shadow of a doubt, people are not obeying it, a good seven or eight out of 10 cars," observed Joe Pardo, who lives at 10th Avenue and 47th Street, concerning cars stopping for pedestrians in the 9th Avenue crosswalk.

Asperger invited residents to have their flooding concerns addressed in detail at a special meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 18 at the Village Hall, 53 S. La Grange Road.

Two other town hall meetings are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 25 at Ogden Avenue School, Ogden Avenue and La Grange Road, and Nov. 22 at the Community Center, 200 Washington Ave.

Source: PioneerLocal - http://www.pioneerlocal.com/lagrange/news/2754218,la-grange-townhall-093010-s1.article
 

Trustees consider lower speed on LaGrange Road

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September 14, 2010

By ROB HERZOG Contributor

La Grange trustees took an initial step Monday toward a possible speed reduction on LaGrange Road south of 47th Street.

Trustees directed village staff to begin pursuit of a 30-mph speed limit on the stretch of road after they heard a status report on several traffic safety initiatives.

The current speed limit on LaGrange Road south of 47th is 35 mph, but drivers must slow to 25 mph in downtown LaGrange, a rather abrupt change, officials said. The lower speed limit would improve overall safety and produce a more gradual traffic slowdown as motorists approach downtown, trustees said.

"They will be able to slowly reduce their speed," Village President Liz Asperger said.

In addition to a possible change of the LaGrange Road speed limit, LaGrange officials might soon get more information on another major traffic proposal -- the potential lane reduction on 47th Street.

Director of Public Works Ryan Gillingham told the board that a feasibility report from traffic consultant KLOA on 47th Street lanes could be ready by November or December. The consultant is reviewing whether a three-lane road would be safer than the current four-lane framework. The three lanes would include a median turn lane that would divide one eastbound lane and one westbound lane.

The lane reduction could produce a calming effect on 47th Street, officials said. Drivers seeking to turn onto side streets from 47th currently must stop in traffic. A median turn lane could potentially make traffic flow more smoothly and reduce the number of rear-end crashes and sideswipes that come when drivers try to avoid getting stuck behind a left-turning vehicle. Pedestrians also might cross more safely using the median lane, trustees said.

"You could kill two birds with one stone," said Trustee Paul Horvath. "You could get a safer roadway and a more efficient roadway."

But some fear that a lane reduction on 47th could send traffic elsewhere in the village.

"I have a concern about where the traffic is going to go," said Trustee Mark Kuchler. "If drivers are going to Ogden, I have concerns because of the schools (on that road)."

The KLOA report could give trustees information about the overall impact the change could make. No decisions will come until the Village Board can study the findings.

"I don't think that it's a foregone conclusion," Asperger said of the possibility of changing the number of lanes on 47th Street. "The feasibility report has not been released."

The village recently added a pedestrian crosswalk at 47th Street and 9th Avenue, but its success is a matter of debate. Gillingham and Village Manager Robert Pilipiszyn said that initial observations and e-mail responses show that the number of pedestrians using the crosswalk is low. New signs informing drivers that they must stop will be installed.

Trustee Mark Langan said some neighbors have told him they are grateful for the crosswalk. Drivers seems to be more courteous during mid-day, he said, but disregard the crosswalk at other times.

Village officials had considered putting a similar crosswalk at 47th and Waiola, but that could be delayed while officials review the effectiveness of the 9th Avenue version.

"If pedestrians want it on Waiola, now is probably the time to speak up," Kuchler said.

Trustees also directed staff to begin investigation on whether they can reconfigure traffic on southbound LaGrange Road between Brewster and Ogden Avenue. Eliminating five parking spaces in that area could improve traffic flow, officials said.

Source: PioneerLocal - http://www.pioneerlocal.com/lagrange/news/2708710,la-grange-speed-091610-s1.article
 


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Cari Lyn Cook (Stevens)
(1978-2009)

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