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IDOT to lower speed limit on 47th Street

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August 20, 2009 By JANE MICHAELS

The Illinois Department of Transportation has agreed to lower the speed limit to 30 from 35 mph along 47th Street between Gilbert and East avenues in La Grange, following a pedestrian fatality in May.

Rep. Jim Durkin, R-82nd, of Western Springs announced Aug. 20 that IDOT officials agreed to the change following a traffic speed study completed earlier in the week, just nine days after the La Grange Village Board authorized the study Aug. 10.

“My history of requests from IDOT, my batting average, hasn't always been this good. This is a welcome decision,” Durkin said, acknowledging the joint effort of Rep. Michael Zalewski, D-21st, of Chicago, in pressing for the speed reduction.

The decision followed meetings between IDOT representatives, La Grange officials and Durkin and Zalewski. Neighborhood residents also clamored for increased safety measures at a town meeting, after a young mother of two children, Cari Cook of Countryside, was struck while crossing 47th Street at 8th Avenue May 19.

“IDOT understood we can't allow that tragedy to happen again. They listened to us and expedited a traffic study,” Durkin said. “We weren't going to let this carry on for an unreasonable amount of time. We wanted to get something back by the time school started.”

Durkin said new speed limit signs are expected to be posted by Sept. 2.

“We needed to slow things down,” he said. “The goal is to extend that reduced speed limit all the way down to the county line through Western Springs.”

Durkin said he will push for a study to also reduce the speed limit in Western Springs to 30 from 35 mph, based on first-hand experience.

“I live four houses from 47th Street, and I've seen enough car accidents in the past eight years that I know we need to slow things down,” he said.

In addition, Durkin said he and Zalewsi are supporting La Grange's efforts to reduce the speed limit on Ogden Avenue with its narrow sidewalks and throngs of students walking to and from two elementary schools and a junior high. Official have suggested reducing the speed to 25 from 30 mph on Ogden Avenue which, like 47th Street, is maintained and controlled by the state.

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Cari Lyn Cook (Stevens)

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