Forest Park’s Traffic Safety Commission recommended that the village tackle major traffic safety issues at several intersections, mostly along Madison Street.
The advisory commission investigates traffic issues and recommends possible solutions, and the council decides whether to follow through on any recommendations. During the Sept. 26 village council meeting, commission chair Jordan Kuehn gave a presentation sharing recommendations for improvements in several areas, including the left turn lane section of Madison Street between Elgin and Harlem avenues, the crosswalk at Lathrop Avenue and Brown Street and unsafe crossings between Veterans Park, 631 Circle Ave. and the dog park at 632 Circle Ave. While the council didn’t take any action during the meeting, it gave the village staff a tentative go-ahead to prepare necessary ordinances.
Traffic often backs up on Madison Street as it nears Harlem Avenue especially with drivers looking to turn left there. There is a median strip and currently a pedestrian crossing on Madison where it intersects with Elgin on the south side of the street. The issue, the report explains, is that, when the traffic backs up, drivers wanting to turn north on Harlem often shift onto the median, which creates a blind spot for pedestrians using the crosswalk and obstructs the median for emergency vehicles that may need to use it.
The commission found that, according to Forest Park police records, there have been 10 traffic incidents in the area between Jan. 1, 2021 and May 24, 2022. While none of them involved pedestrians, the staff at the Fat Duck Tavern & Grill, 7218 Madison St., reportedly witnessed several close calls.
The commission suggested four possible solutions that go from simplest to the most complex. The first two options would call for making sure the existing lighted crosswalk signs are working and adding a new pedestrian crossing warning sign at the median. The third option calls for turning the street parking on Madison into a right turn lane, which would reduce the pressure on the existing eastbound lane and potentially reduce back-ups. The final option, which the report describes as the most expensive of the four, would move the crosswalk west to the point Madison intersects with Elgin as it moves north of Madison. This would, the report states, get rid of the blind spot.
“This one got a lot of attention,” Kuehn said. “We felt this one needs a fair amount of consideration.”
Commissioner Joe Byrnes said he would vote in favor of the second option.
The report also spotlighted another issue with the north leg of Elgin Avenue. Drivers stopping by a Starbucks location at 7231 Madison St. use the alley north of the building to head west to Marengo Avenue and turn south on Marengo to return to Madison Street. The problem is that drivers face blind spots in both direction as they turn on Marengo. The commission recommends installing signs warning drivers of the blind exit and installing mirrors in both directions to give them a better view of Marengo Avenue.
In the longer run, the report recommends adding “yield to pedestrians” signs at all Madison Street pedestrian crosswalks. Kuehn said the feedback they got was that residents think it’s dangerous to use the crosswalks.
Beyond the Madison Street corridor, the report flagged the spot where Brown Avenue dead-ends into Lathrop Avenue. The cars that turn north from Brown onto Lathrop block the pedestrian crossing during rush hour, which is a particular issue for families heading to Forest Park’s Oak Park Montessori School on the other side of the intersection, at 16 Lathrop Ave. The commission recommended repainting the yellow curb in front of the school.
“If we repaint that curb over there, it may provide a better sight line and less need for cars to creep onto the crosswalk,” Kuehn said.
The report also recommended installing a crosswalk at the Circle Avenue/Lehmer Street intersection. Since two pocket parks operated by the village – the Veterans Park and the dog park – are at the southwest and southeast corners of the intersection, respectively, it’s a natural crossing point, but one that’s dangerous to pedestrians without a clearly marked crosswalk. The report indicates that one pedestrian was struck last year trying to cross it.
Kuehn said the commission will be looking into further improvements to Madison Street pedestrian crossings, potential crosswalk improvements and the section of Randolph Street between Harlem and Elgin Avenues, and traffic improvements at 1100 Elgin Ave., where drivers are reportedly speeding and ignoring the one-way nature of that portion of the street.
While the commissioners didn’t take any action on Sept. 26, nor did they discuss any timeline for when the village might consider any improvement Mayor Rory Hoskins urged commissioners to forward comments to village staff.
“Commissioners, if you want to follow up and give staff some direction, that’s totally appropriate,” he said.
To view the presentation slide, visit the Safety and Traffic Commission page at https://www.forestpark.net/dfp/government/local-government/commissions-boards-committees/safety-traffic-commission/