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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 -,la-grange-speed-091610-s1.article

Cari Lyn Cook (Stevens)

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