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Opposition voiced on lower La Grange Road speed limit

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By Joe Sinopoli, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
La Grange Suburban Life

La Grange, IL -  Is it prudent to lower the speed limit to 25 mph on La Grange Road? Derrick Knudsen does not think so.

Knudsen, who lives in the 600 block, raised the issue at the July 13 Village Board meeting following a report on pedestrian safety measures that have been implemented or are being planned for the village’s major arterial roads.

One proposal is to lower the limit from 35 to 25 mph on La Grange Road south of 47th Street.

Knudsen cited several state and federal studies conducted on the relevance of lowering speed limits to keep accidents from happening. It does not work, Knudsen said.

“If we lower it to 25, I think we are opening ourselves up to safety issues,” Knudsen said. “I live on La Grange Road, and I’m happy with 35.”

Lowering the limit would cause backups on the busy street that would make it nearly impossible, and dangerous, for him to exit his driveway, he added. According to the studies cited by Knudsen, the lowering of speed limits is generally motivated by political or community pressure.

A report on the Effects of Raising and Lowering Speed Limits by the U.S. Department of Transportation found that lowering speed limits by 5 to 20 mph at 100 study sites in 22 states had a minor effect on vehicle speeds.

La Grange Police Chief Michael Holub said he was familiar with the facts Knudsen reported. Police officers had previously attended a traffic class hosted by traffic engineers who said lowering the speed limit does not necessarily slow traffic down; it just creates a bigger gap of violations, and drivers will travel at the speed they are most comfortable.

“It’s kind of like water seeking its own level,” Holub said. “Cars are engineered much better, roadways are engineered much better and people will drive at the speed where they feel they are in control of their vehicles.”

The village has realigned curb cuts along 47th Street and improved crosswalks in response to a fatal accident May 19. Cari Cook of Countryside was crossing the busy four-lane road with a 2-year-old daughter in a stroller and a 4-month-old son strapped to her chest in a carrier.
Cook was attempting to lift the stroller over the curb when she was struck and killed by a car. Her son suffered a broken leg. The daughter was unharmed.

The village also has hired the services of Rosemont-based KLOA Inc., to conduct a safety survey in several parts of the village, among them, La Grange Road. Owner Luay Aboona said the group will be looking at pedestrian crossings, adjusting traffic signals to coincide with countdown signals, and speed limits.

Aboona declined to comment on whether lowering the speed limit would increase safety until the study is complete.

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Cari Lyn Cook (Stevens)

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