In an effort to avoid continuing to apply Band-Aids to address traffic issues in the village, the River Forest Village Board voted, Oct. 24, to conduct a village-wide traffic study.

The five trustees present voted unanimously to hire Thomas Engineering Group LLC of Oak Park to conduct the study for $98,644. Bob O’Connell did not attend.

Officials hope the village-wide traffic study, which has been in the works since April, will eliminate the need for the piecemeal solutions to issues raised by residents in the past year, an approach that Village Clerk Jonathan Keller compared to the Whack-A-Mole carnival game at a previous meeting.

The village-wide traffic study will not include the northeast corner of the village, which was the subject of a separate study commissioned in January, with recommendations presented at the Oct. 10 board meeting.

“The purpose of the study is to provide a comprehensive review of traffic patterns/volumes/speeds throughout the village in an effort to identify and implement necessary improvements in a manner that minimizes or completely avoids unintended consequences,” Jeff Loster, director of public works and development services, said in a memo to Brian Murphy, village administrator.

He noted that, although Thomas Engineering has not performed this type of work in River Forest previously, the firm has provided construction engineering services for the village “over the past few years” and “has always performed well.”

Thomas Engineering has done similar work for the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Kane County Division of Transportation, the city of West Chicago and the village of Oak Park. Loster said multiple references were checked and “all provided positive feedback.”

Expected to take 10 months, the project will be complete in September 2023 if work begins in November. 

According to Thomas Engineering, one of the firm’s first steps will be to draft a village-wide survey to obtain resident feedback on the areas being studied and to gain a better understanding of residents’ experiences from both a pedestrian and driver perspective. The survey will gather resident input on various traffic-related issues throughout the village. It will provide residents the opportunity to identify their areas of concern as well as their preferred methods/options to address those issues. Potential items for input will include speeding, cut-through, traffic control, traffic calming, traffic safety, pedestrian/bike safety, bike lanes and parking.

As originally submitted, the cost of the proposal was approximately $150,000. In negotiations between village staff and Thomas Engineering staff, both parties worked to get the total project cost under $100,000, which is to be funded through the general fund and the two tax increment financing (TIF) district funds.

Loster said items removed from the scope of work include the investigation of a jurisdictional transfer of a portion of Thatcher Avenue from IDOT to the village and an inventory of all signage and pavement striping throughout the village. Restoring those items would cost an additional $14,527 and $14,742, respectively, he added.

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