Oak Park village hall

Traffic calming measures, bike lane plans, accessibility, mobility and traffic signals, among other transportation-related matters, will fall within a new division inside of Oak Park’s public works department.

As it begins planning a Vision Zero project aimed at reducing and then eliminating all traffic fatalities and severe injuries within the village, the newly constituted division will bring focus to a range of traffic issues. The new Transportation Engineering Division will be led by Village Engineer Bill McKenna, who will take on the additional title of assistant public works director.

Within the division falls the newly created position of assistant village engineer and transportation engineer and two civil engineer positions. The village currently has one civil engineer position filled. The village intends to list a job posting in the coming weeks for the two open positions.

Having a division solely dedicated to matters of transportation, mobility and traffic was recommended by village staff with the intention of putting Oak Park in a position to execute a future Vision Zero plan.

First developed in Sweden, Vision Zero is a strategy to completely eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries. The Village of Oak Park has engaged the services of Sam Schwartz Engineering for its Vision Zero plan development, entering into a contract worth $176,620 May 15. The village received a $120,000 grant for its Vision Zero efforts from the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Vision Zero plan development has not yet begun as IDOT still has to review and approve the agreement between the contracted engineering department and the village. The state’s transportation department has not provided an anticipated date of completion of their review, according to Oak Park spokesperson Dan Yopchick.

“We are hoping that we get approval from IDOT on the agreement sometime this summer so work can start in late summer or an early fall time frame,” said Yopchick.

As part of Vision Zero Plan development, existing processes and policies will be examined to identify any potential areas in need of change. Such processes that will fall under the scope of review include that of traffic calming petitions. No petitions will be directly reviewed through the Vision Zero effort.

“The VZP will be reviewing the existing traffic calming petition process to see if there should be any recommended changes to the process and how the traffic calming petition process can best fit within the overall umbrella of a Vision Zero Plan,” said Yopchick.

Traffic calming petitions are submitted by residents facing traffic problems in their neighborhood. Petitions must be signed by residents representing no less than 51 percent of properties along the street frontage where traffic calming has been requested.

Currently the village has 19 traffic calming petitions in-hand that need to be reviewed by the Transportation Commission, which is made up of citizen volunteers, not staff members.

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