Stoplight may get the green light after all
In the week
since they last met, it appears that several of the Lincoln City
Council members have reconsidered a vote taken last Tuesday night
vetoing a traffic control device at the intersection of Fifth and
The entire situation stems from a letter from the Illinois
Department of Transportation outlining road projects that will take
place inside the city limits this summer.
Because Fifth Street is also Business 55, it is under the state's
The letter outlined resurfacing of the street and installing a
traffic light at the intersection of Fifth and College.
When the letter was presented, Alderman David Wilmert questioned
the wisdom of putting a light at that location and asked for input
from his Ward 2 constituents. Alderwoman Kathy Horn, who also
represents Ward 2, expressed that she, too, was interested in
knowing how the people felt about this.
When it came to a vote last week, Wilmert beseeched the council
to veto the resolution that was being requested by the state and to
consider at the next workshop asking that the light be stricken from
By a 7-2 vote, the council agreed to Wilmert's request.
Snyder said that since then he had asked city engineer Mark
Mathon to contact IDOT representatives, and IDOT was not opposed to
having the traffic light stricken from the agreement.
City attorney Bill Bates had in the meantime rewritten the
resolution with the light stricken.
When Alderwoman Marty Neitzel this week asked that the letter and
resolution be placed on the agenda of the next voting session,
Alderman Buzz Busby spoke up, saying that he wanted the resolution
read aloud at the voting meeting, primarily because it would be a
Busby said, "I've had a few telephone calls, and people are upset
over the situation."
Neitzel said she felt like they should have tabled the resolution
last week and waited for more information.
The proposed light will be camera-activated. Cars traveling on
College will be detected a half-block from the intersection and
again when they arrive. The light on Fifth will stay green unless
there is a vehicle approaching on College, and then it will change.
Tracy Jackson, street and alley superintendent, said that also
because Fifth is a state route, the light would stay red only a
brief time. He compared it to the lights at Keokuk and North Logan,
where traffic not on the main thoroughfare will be given only a few
seconds of green before it is once again stopped.
Snyder wondered if both resolutions could be placed on the agenda
for voting, and Bates said that they could.
Wilmert expressed some dissatisfaction that the vote had already
been taken and now it appeared that they were going to go through it
all again. He felt they were going against the very purpose of
having a vote in the first place.
He said that in the calls he had received, people were
overwhelmingly against the traffic light.
Busby wondered who was making the calls. Was it Ward 2 residents?
Wilmert said that, yes, it was.
Neitzel spoke directly to Wilmert: "The people on Fifth over --
Fourth, Third -- they are the ones who want it; they can't get
across. The ones on your side, they can go to Eighth Street and go,
but the people where I'm at, they have no other place to go. The
only way they can go is to go up to Kickapoo and go clear that way.
That is the only way they can go to get away from it, unless they
take a different road."
"Right, which most people do," Wilmert countered. "Again, there
wasn't anything magical about that particular corner. Fifth Street
is a busy street, and the feedback was that there would be better
places to put it."
Snyder said that the city did not have the ability to move the
light. The decision was going to be Fifth and College or not at all.
Busby recounted that one call he had received was from a bus
driver who hauls children in a minibus through that intersection
around eight times per day. The driver had voiced concerns that it
was not a safe situation for children on a bus.
Busby asked if city police Chief Stuart Erlenbush could research
the number of accidents that have occurred at that intersection.
Erlenbush said that indeed he could, but he was already relatively
certain that there have been very few, if any.
Wilmert said he'd be very interested in hearing that report.
Alderman David Armbrust spoke up, saying, "I think we lose track,
taking care of our own wards, of what might be better for the whole
community. While we are all elected from a particular area, we are
also elected to be part of a group to govern this community."
As discussion continued, it came up that traffic-count
information could be gathered, as well as the accident records for
the intersection. Wilmert said he thought that all pertinent
information should be brought to the council by next week's voting
Erlenbush and Jackson will compile information and convey it to
the aldermen prior to next week's meeting, when the group will vote
in favor of one of two resolutions that will be on the agenda.
Anderson seeks clarification on amending city
Alderwoman Melody Anderson asked Bates, the city attorney, if he
had heard this week from Les Plotner, city treasurer. She said that
Plotner was interpreting the rules of amending the appropriations
ordinance to say that the amount of the total appropriations could
not be increased simply to allow for more expenditures.
Bates said he believes that the appropriations bill can be
increased only if there is an increase in revenues.
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Anderson said the most serious of amendments that need to be made
relates to motor fuel tax funds. She said there is a balance in the
fund that was not used in figuring the appropriations.
She said Mathon had said that there had to be a resolution for
the appropriations, and then he would do a resolution regarding the
But the question remained: Did it have to be more money?
Bates read from a handbook: "During any part of the fiscal year,
the corporate authorities may adopt a supplemental appropriation
ordinance in an amount not in excess of the aggregate in the
additional revenue available to the municipality or estimated to be
received by the municipality subsequent to the adoption to the
annual appropriation ordinance for that fiscal year, or from fund
balances available when the annual appropriations ordinance was
adopted but not appropriated at that time."
Anderson said then that because there is motor fuel tax funding
available that wasn't appropriated, it can be appropriated now, and
Bates confirmed that.
In the line of supplies and materials, the budgeted amount for
the year is $150,000, and the appropriations amount is $165,000.
Currently the total amount expended in the line is $175,635. This is
the line item that provides funding for, among other things, salt
for city streets.
This was the most serious deviation from the appropriations that
the city was going to have to deal with.
Anderson said she would go back and take another look at the
other changes she thought might need to be made. Those changes can
still be made if the total appropriation per city department doesn't
change, or if there is additional funding not accounted for in the
For example, additional money is needed by the fire department
for equipment repair. To add funds there, the department will have
to reduce expenditures in some other line or come up with new money
to add to their program.
Should we ask downtown merchants before closing streets?
James Loeffler from the Railsplitter Antique Auto Club made his
annual request for street closings around the downtown square for
this year's show schedule.
The monthly car shows will be on the fourth Saturday from 5 to 9
p.m. April through September. The only exception is the August show,
which is on Sunday during the Lincoln Art & Balloon Festival, from 1
to 4 in the afternoon.
Snyder said he has wondered if, as a courtesy, downtown merchants
should be told in advance that such requests are coming up for vote.
He said he felt the merchants should have the opportunity to speak
on the subject prior to the vote if they wished.
He asked the council if this was a good idea or a bad one.
Jackson said he thought it would make things easier for his
crews, as they sometimes are approached by unhappy merchants when
they block the streets off.
Loeffler said he hasn't had any issues with the merchants nor has
he heard any complaints.
Snyder said he wasn't referring specifically to the Railsplitter
Club, but rather generally speaking, that merchants should have that
Bates suggested that Main Street Lincoln could be the liaison for
these notifications. Snyder will speak with Main Street director
Wanda Lee Rohlfs about how to go about this.
Snyder comments on Summit Round Two
Snyder said that Saturday morning between 30 and 35 people
attended Round Two of the Economic Summit.
He said there was a great discussion on the book "Caught in the
The author of the book, Richard C. Longworth, will be speaking in
Decatur on April 13. Snyder said the date is a workshop night, but
if enough people are interested in going, they might make a change.
At the Saturday session, Dolan Dolpoas spoke on strategic
planning. Snyder said that he did a nice job on it.
He said that people left the meeting energized and excited.
Snyder also said that he had asked for names of people who should
be invited to participate and that he received literally hundreds of
He also commented that four county board members were present for
the meeting, and he thought that was very encouraging.
Future meetings are being planned. Snyder plans to have quarterly
events, but he has not set the exact dates.
[By NILA SMITH]