Since May of last year, those who use the intersection on a regular
basis have felt that something was wrong with the traffic control
devices there. It was a concern that the lights were not functioning
properly and thus were the cause of many of the accidents that occur
there, especially left-turn incidents.
Other complaints have been
coming to the city. Drivers say they have to sit too long at red
lights at some of the other intersections. Many felt they were
sitting for several minutes, even when there was no traffic going
through the intersection from the other directions.
Geriets said the city had contacted the Illinois Department of
Transportation and asked them to investigate whether or not there
were indeed malfunctions in the signal system.
Geriets said IDOT did come and investigate. He said that with
their technology, the state agency had the ability to look at the
past performance of the lights and found that there was no
malfunction at the Woodlawn intersection.
Geriets said he also had investigated the number of accidents and
how they had occurred. In an 18-month period prior to last May,
there were 14 accidents at the intersection, but only four were
left-turn accidents. Of those four, though, two had ended with
driver or passenger injuries.
Geriets noted that this was understandable because the left turn
was putting vehicles in the pathway of north-to-south drivers who
have a speed limit of 45 mph through the intersection. He said with
that speed, significant damage and injury were more probable.
IDOT also looked at the other state-owned lights in town. Geriets
said this occurred last summer, and at that time IDOT found that
some of the loops under the road surface were not operating
properly, and those were repaired immediately.
Back to the discussion about Woodlawn Road, Geriets said the 14
accidents had come from a variety of causes, such as rear-end
accidents, sideswipes, improper lane changes, and disregard for the
Still, Geriets said there was a feeling that something needed to
be done to help reduce the number of accidents. One thought was a
change in the speed limit through the intersections. Geriets said
that for the city it is not as simple as just asking IDOT to change
the speed limits. The state agency has to feel there is a need to do
so, and they determine this by doing a traffic study.
Geriets said they did do a study of Lincoln Parkway, placing
speed detection loops at three locations: Fifth Street, Abraham
Lincoln Memorial Hospital and north of the Woodlawn intersection.
They collected data for several weeks, then compiled the data and
returned a decision from the study in November.
The study determined that there is a need for a reduction in the
speed limit on Lincoln Parkway.
[to top of second column]
Geriets said that this spring when the weather conditions are
better, IDOT will post changes in the speed limit from 45 mph to
40 mph. The reduced speed will begin about one-half mile south
of Fifth Street and continue north to the vicinity of Kickapoo
Geriets said another possible solution for some of the
intersections would be to change the intersection to a flashing
yellow. He said in communities such as Pekin, this has proven to
reduce accidents in left turns.
He said the cost to the state would be between $100,000 and
$200,000, and the state doesn't like to change standards between
intersections, but at the same time they may consider going with a
flashing yellow at Woodlawn and Lincoln Parkway.
In addition, IDOT has studied the Route 121 spur as it comes onto
Lincoln Parkway, particularly at the curb. Geriets said this was
important because, as many know, several serious and fatal accidents
have happened there. He said IDOT also recognized this as a place
that needs to be redesigned to make it safer for all drivers. The
agency will be looking at that and working to come up with a safer
Geriets said that with the extreme cold and snow and ice this
winter, IDOT will come back to check the timing loops on traffic
lights in the city to see if some are malfunctioning now.
He added that in the meantime, when drivers feel a light is not
working properly, they should contact the city police department.
When they do so, though, they should be prepared to provide very
Callers should be able to tell the police the location, the date
of the problem, the time of day, the direction they were traveling
and how long they had to wait for the light to change. He also noted
that timing the light might be helpful for the drivers themselves.
He said sometimes when folks are anxious to get going, a 45-second
time lapse can feel like two or three minutes, so timing the light
could show that they really aren't waiting as long as they think
At the end of the discussion, Michelle Bauer and Melody Anderson
both thanked Geriets for the detailed report. Anderson added that
she is hopeful the state will decide to do a flashing yellow at the
Woodlawn and Lincoln Parkway intersection.
[By NILA SMITH]