New electronic pedestrian walkway signs will soon brighten Madison Street, thanks to public safety grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) that was secured by commissioners Tom Mannix and Mark Hosty, according to a village press release.

The signs are designed to minimize any risks posed to pedestrians crossing the busy street at night. The sign’s edges are equipped with LED lights and a spotlight will shine on the crosswalk. All of the features are activated by the push of a button.  What’s more, the lights will stay illuminated for approximately 72 seconds as the pedestrian crosses the road. There will also be no cost to power the signs because solar panels are attached.

According to Mannix, the signs will be placed at every crosswalk on Madison Street except by the Ferdinand Avenue intersection. In total, five signs will be installed. 

“We’re going to install these and see the impact,” Mannix said. If they prove effective, the village may add a sixth sign at Ferdinand Avenue, he added.  

The Public Works Department will begin setting up the signs this week. The signs should only take a few days to install, but inclement weather could delay the project. Public Works Director John Doss will be working with the crews installing the signs, in an effort to try and have a minimal impact on the flow of traffic on the major arterial street.

The signs will also cost the village very little. In addition to the solar panels taking care of energy costs, the $45,000 grant from the state will pay for the expenses of all five signs, according to Mayor Anthony Calderone. One of these enhanced signs costs approximately $9,000. Mannix said that the costs of maintenance should be small because the efficient LED lights last for 10 to 15 years.

Hosty initiated the endeavor in his previous position as Streets and Public Improvements Commissioner. The grant took roughly a year to secure through the combined efforts of Hosty, the recently elected Mannix, Village Administrator Tim Gillian state Rep. Karen Yarborough and state Sen. Lightford.

While a press release for the project cites the inherent risks of the heavy foot and car traffic in the area as a reason to make these improvements, when asked, Calderone said that this is not a response to any current safety problem on that stretch of Madison Street. Rather, Calderone said, this project arose out of a desire to be proactive about the safety of pedestrians on Forest Park’s streets.

“We’re always looking out for pedestrian safety,” said Calderone. “This was an opportunity we took to improve it.”