River Forest Village Hall | Alex Rogals

The River Forest Village Board responded to complaints from residents about cut-through traffic in the northeast quadrant of the village by awarding a contract for a traffic study in that section.

Officials voted unanimously at the Nov. 8 village board meeting to award a contract with Kenig, Lindgren, O’Hara, Alboona Inc. (KLOA) to conduct a traffic study in the area bounded by North Avenue, Harlem Avenue, Greenfield Street and Lathrop Avenue at a cost not to exceed $13,500.

Although complaints about cut-through traffic in that section of the village have been received previously, the matter formally came to officials at the Oct. 11 village board meeting when resident Robert Armalas requested action.

In requesting a traffic study, he referred to the situation as “a stain on the community,” adding that he hoped officials would agree that local streets are not truck routes or alternate routes for drivers using Harlem and North. He and others previously addressed the issue at a meeting of the Traffic and Safety Commission, which recommended conducting the traffic study.

At the commission’s Sept. 15 meeting, specific concerns were raised, including drivers speeding and ignoring stop signs, along with cut-through traffic coming off North Avenue to avoid congestion at the intersection of Harlem and North.

In recommending the traffic study, Jeff Loster, director of public works and development services, referred to “numerous” transportation-related studies that KLOA has performed for the village, including the plan for safe walking routes to schools and the commuter parking study. He cited KLOA’s background knowledge of the village, past project experience, and performance on previous village studies. KLOA also serves as the village’s transportation engineering consultant.

KLOA will perform field observations on weekday mornings between 7 and 9 a.m. and weekday evenings from 4 to 6 p.m. at 12 specific intersections, and conduct midblock two-way traffic counts and speed studies at seven specific locations. KLOA also will study crash data from the police department for the area for the past five years.

At the Oct. 11 meeting, Police Chief Jim O’Shea supported the traffic study, calling it “a great idea.” He noted police officers have been conducting ongoing enforcement and education in this area, including writing tickets, but added he did not know if “we can educate or enforce our way out of this issue.”

Loster said he expects the duration of the study to last two months. In addition to data collection, the period will include completion of a report that summarizes the study’s findings and provides recommendations. He was unable to predict an exact start date, noting that village staff members will be “working through a few items to make sure the scope of the study addresses everyone’s concerns.”  

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