Monday, February 17, 2014
sponsored by

State to change speed limits on Lincoln Parkway

Send a link to a friend 

[February 17, 2014]  At the Feb. 11 Lincoln City Council committee of the whole, Michael Geriets, assistant police chief, talked at length about a public concern over the high number of accidents at the intersection of Woodlawn Road and Lincoln Parkway.

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 traffic light.

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 Creek Park.

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 intersection.

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 specific information.

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 they are.

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.


< Top Stories index

Back to top