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Trustees set aside $100,000 for signal on 47th Street

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February 15, 2011

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

Funding has been earmarked for an enhanced pedestrian crossing signal at Waiola Avenue and 47th Street in La Grange, after village officials discussed a number of solutions to calm traffic and increase pedestrian safety along the major east-west route.

At a budget workshop Monday, Village Board members informally agreed to set aside $100,000 for a crossing signal, which could have flashing red or yellow lights when activated by a push button.

"I'm absolutely in favor of a pedestrian signal at Waiola," said board member Jim Palermo. "And we do need more enforcement. The compliance situation is just awful at 47th Street and 9th Avenue."

Board members Bill Holder and Mike Horvath said additional funding should be explored to enforce the speed limit of 30 mph on 47th Street, as well as motorists stopping for pedestrians in the crosswalk at 9th Avenue.

"We've got limited resources, and he's doing the best he can with what he has," Holder said, referring to Police Chief Michael Holub. "If we want more enforcement, we need to provide the funds."

Board members also suggested an additional crossing signal at Leitch Avenue and a full traffic signal at Spring Avenue to calm traffic.

Village President Liz Asperger suggested the board may want to delay funding the crossing to Waiola Park until assessing the success of proposed enforcement and education efforts at the 9th Avenue crossing.

"We need to be very careful with the community," Asperger said. "Everyone wants to enhance safety, but at the same time, we cannot guarantee for anything we do, there will not be another accident on 47th Street."

Horvath said he didn't see the need for further study, and he opposed delay.

"I'm completely confident if we educate and enforce, it will work. I have no problem with engineering the crosswalk at Waiola while we enforce the one at 9th Avenue," he said. "We've been talking about this for such a long time. Let's just move ahead and not wait."

Joe LaRocco, who lives on the 500 block of Waiola Avenue, urged the board to approve the crossing for his neighborhood.

"I don't' think reducing the speed limit from 35 to 30 mph achieved the goal," LaRocco said. "There's still plenty of motorists traveling at a high rate of speed, creating a dangerous situation."

La Rocco's neighbor, Kathleen Mungo, pressed the board for the next steps on approval for the crosswalk as well as increased enforcement along 47th Street. State transportation officials need to approve the signal, based on traffic and pedestrian counts, which could take about a year, said Public Works Director Ryan Gillingham.

Board members asked Holub to provide an analysis showing how many hours of service could be provided at a particular funding level. The village's proposed operating budget will be discussed at 8 a.m. March 12 at the Village Hall, 53 S. La Grange Road.

Gillingham outlined proposals and updates for 55 other capital improvement projects including road resurfacing, replacing signs with more reflective ones, safety improvements along Willow Road at Lyons Township High School and the Stone Avenue train station renovation.

Other proposals were for sidewalk replacement, replanting trees, combating the emerald ash borer, six sewer improvement projects and remodeling and increasing energy efficiency at the Village Hall, Fire and Police departments and the Public Works building.

Source: Pioneer Local -,la-grange-projects-021711-s1.article

Cari Lyn Cook (Stevens)

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