Help is on the way for those living near the intersection of Circle Avenue and Adams Street who raised safety concerns regarding the intersection earlier this year.
Following a lengthy discussion at the June 27 village council meeting, Forest Park officials accepted a recommendation from the village Traffic and Safety Commission to install stop signs on Circle at Adams, making the intersection a four-way stop. In addition, officials accepted the recommendation by Village Administrator Tim Gillian to install solar-powered flashing stop signs.
Aubrey Jacknow, who lives at the Circle-Adams intersection, originally raised safety concerns about the intersection in a letter to Commissioner Rachell Entler. The issue came before the council at the May 9 meeting, at which time it was referred to the Traffic and Safety Commission, chaired by John Hosty.
At the commission’s June 16 meeting, the six members in attendance voted unanimously to recommend installation of stop signs at the intersection, citing police department statistics that 17 accidents had been reported at the intersection over the past three years. Four village residents who spoke at the meeting reported near-misses and two occasions when a house was struck by a car following an accident.
Since the matter was up for discussion only, no formal vote was taken. Although Commissioners Dan Novak and Joe Byrnes expressed support for the recommendation, Commissioner Tom Mannix said he did not think the recommendation was the best idea for that intersection, citing concerns about a proliferation of stop signs and contending that multiple stop signs can themselves create a safety hazard.
“I appreciate the work they did, the letter they wrote, and the rationale behind it,” Mannix said, “but I think this is just going to take us down a slippery slope and Circle is going to wind up like Harrison where there are so many stop signs,” he said. “So many people see all the stop signs that nobody stops at the signs. All they do is slow down and go drifting through the intersection at 15 miles per hour knowing there’s another stop sign a block down the road.”
He cited “numerous studies” that show the more stop signs there are, the less safe the streets become, causing a “false sense of security.”
Mannix also referred to his attendance at Traffic and Safety Commission meetings over the years at which “numerous” complaints were raised by residents regarding cars not coming to a complete stop for stop signs on Harrison, which he said he fears will happen on Circle.
“All they see is six stop signs,” he said of drivers on Harrison. “They’re not stopping, they’re rolling.”
Novak answered Mannix’s question about whether other alternatives had been explored by saying he had attended the Circle-Adams meeting and knew other options were considered, and that the commission members “did vet suggestions from residents and professionals” in attendance.
Mannix’s concerns notwithstanding, Mayor Anthony Calderone declared that the majority was inclined to accept the recommendation as written.
“There’s additional work we will have to do,” he added, including researching whether one of the current village ordinances will need to be modified.
Calderone also said the village should conduct a “realistic heads-up campaign” at the intersection prior to the installation of the stop signs to forewarn drivers on Circle of the pending change, suggesting using the village’s electronic message board for four weeks prior to installation of the stop signs, two weeks for drivers traveling south and two weeks for those traveling north.
In addition, Gillian said trees at the intersection will need to be trimmed to increase visibility of the stop signs.