Traffic improvements proposed at Main Street and Highland Avenue near Downers Grove North and South high schools could soon become a reality if the Downers Grove Village Council sides with the opinion shared by some commissioners at a meeting last week.
The issue has long been a topic of conversation in the community, with 99 crashes cited in the past five years, of which eight of those involved pedestrians or bicyclists and of which one involved fatality, according to village council documents.
But in 2020, Downers Grove took its first steps toward addressing the problem by accepting the High School Pedestrian Safety Study that was prepared in partnership between the village and Community High School District 99.
Last week the village council took a close look at a proposed plan aimed at promoting safety near both high schools.
At Main Street, the projects calls for one lane in each direction with protected left turn lanes, the optimization of traffic signal timing, dedication of bike lanes and construction of curb extensions at Grant Street.
At Highland Avenue, the proposed improvements may involve the construction of chicanes.
Village Manager David Fieldman said a decision on traffic safety improvements at Main Street and Highland Avenue will be made at Tuesday’s village council meeting.
Some commissioners expressed full confidence in the proposed plan to improve traffic flow.
“I think that it is the right thing to do to ensure the pedestrian safety of our high schools,” Commissioner Leslie Sadowski-Fugitt said.
Commissioner Rich Kulovany said he will support the improvements when the village council puts the proposal to a vote.
But Commissioner Nicole Walus said she is not fully convinced on the need for the proposed chicanes on Highland Avenue from Grant to Lincoln streets, which officials said would reduce the amount of parking spaces by about seven.
“We did receive some residential feedback saying that they would like those parking spaces kept,” Walus said. “That’s kind of a lot of parking spaces in my opinion.”
The project has yet to be decided on by the Illinois Department of Transportation, but officials anticipate the construction will have an estimated $2.1 million price tag. The village plans to seek out Surface Transportation Program grant funding from the State of Illinois to help pay for the project.
Kulovany asked if there’s any reason to doubt the data and modeling results supplied by HR Green and Sam Schwartz Consultants, the two transportation consulting firms enlisted by the village to assist with the project.
Andy Sikich, the village’s director of public works, replied, saying he has high confidence in both consultants to perform the work.
The project’s construction, if approved, is anticipated to begin in 2024.