• Megann Horstead

Joliet councilwoman says stop sign needed at Theodore, Great Ridge


With reportedly 17 accidents at the intersection of Theodore Street and Great Ridge Avenue between January 2013 and February 2016, councilwoman Jan Hallums-Quillman told the Joliet City Council March 1 that a stop sign is needed at the intersecton to reduce traffic-related incidents.

The public service committee did not recommend the item at their Feb. 29 meeting, with members saying they did not feel the situation meet the criteria for a new stop sign.

Quillman said she found the committee’s response to the matter was puzzling and conducted research on the matter. According to state and federal statutes, a crash problem is indicated by five or more cases in a 12-month period at a multi-way stop installation.

After reviewing the laws, Quillman argued that the number of traffic accidents at the intersection certainly make a good case for further city council action. Quillman said she initially started to back the idea that a multi-way stop sign should be installed on a 1- to 2-year trial basis and the speed limit be reduced after seeing an email with a suggestion made by a concerned resident.

Quillman, an at-large councilwoman who serves on the public safety committee, said the last traffic study for the area was done in 2013 and urged the city council to act before it’s too late.

“Why do we have to keep doing traffic studies until somebody gets killed,” she asked.

Because Joliet is a home-rule city, the stop sign proposal can be imposed at any time should the council agree that change is warranted and the city manager makes the necessary arrangements for the placement of a stop sign.

Councilman Jim McFarland said any additional action on the issue would be taken by the public service committee, adding that there was a discrepancy in the traffic study presented to them.

“Unfortunately, the staff did not obtain all the documents that basically specified that certain areas within the geographic region that we’re discussing took place,” he said. “Staff did go back and obtain all the police reports and did an analysis. They came back to committee yesterday. Again, they [said] there is no support for the four-way stop.”

McFarland said the committee’s response does not see the stop sign as a necessity, adding how the city will address the issue by increasing police presence and speed limit signage.

Councilman Larry Hug said he would like to see engineers compile other studies on similar intersections with smaller residential streets, such as Essington and Larkin, to help the city make a comparison and address Quillman’s concern. He said the issue requires greater caution in the event the city finds and disagrees with the guidelines set by state and local governments, which he said do not warrant the stop sign’s necessity.

“If we go outside the guidelines set by the federal department of transportation over the warrants on this… we basically have said all the research information the federal government has done, we’re going to push it aside as home rule, which makes us responsible for any action and increasingly responsible for liability,” Hug said. “We’re creating kind of arbitrarily our own warrants, and we don’t have the federal warrants or the already established federal warrants to fall back so that’s what I’m referring to as why I want a comparison with other similar intersections on our roads throughout the city.”

The issue regarding the potential installation of a stop sign at the intersection of Great Ridge Avenue and Theodore Street will return to the public service committee at a later date.

Joliet partnering with PACE to construct bus facility

The Joliet City Council voted March 1 to approve an intergovernmental agreement between the city and Pace for the construction of a bus facility and improvements to St. Louis Street, a road leading up to the station.

Voting in favor of the matter coincides with the development of the Joliet Multi-Modal Transportation Project.

The project requires a right-of-way that is 20 feet on the east side of St. Louis Street. Expansion calls for the relocation of a Pace-owned parking lot, located next to their maintenance facility, and employee parking lot to accommodate the road. Pace is offering the property at no cost to the city, according to the agreement.

Officials in Joliet are budgeting local funds, valued at $127,000, for improvements to the roadway and future grant funds, valued at $127,000, for the parking lot.

Contract for Joliet train station platform approved

Also at that March 1 regular meeting, officials approved a contract for a train station platform that is part of the Joliet Multi-Modal Transportation Project. The vote grants a low bid on the project to Walsh Construction.

After examining railroad requirements, site constraints and schedule-driven price increases, the engineer’s estimate rose from $15.63 million to $16.03 million, which is a 15.5 percent increase. Delaying the contractor’s award means other engineering bids are no longer on the table, officials said. The project will funded by state and city contributions from the grants and special revenue fund, as well as multi-modal transport center funds.

Once the budget impasse ends, the city said it will be refunded $362,420. The remainder of the money for the construction of the parking lot will be reimbursed from BNSF funds.

City approves police department staffing study

Joliet officials reached an agreement March 1 on a professional services agreement that will fund a police department staffing study.

Budget constraints, retirements and other economic consequences have put the Joliet Police Department, as well as other departments, in a bind, according to the city.

Approving the agreement, means Alexander Weiss Consulting will oversee the project.

The city hopes that adjustments to operational programs can be made more efficiently and effectively maintain service levels as appropriate. The cost of the study is valued at $33,500, using monies that will be amended and allotted toward the Joliet Police Department’s 2016 budget.

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