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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 (,western-springs-trafficedit-120210-s1.article)

Cari Lyn Cook (Stevens)

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