For over two years, a committed group of northeast River Forest residents have been struggling with our village to get relief from cut-through traffic, stop signs, school speed limit signs, event parking mitigation, a residential street truck ordinance, and alley traffic controls in our corner of River Forest.
These seem like basic reasonable things we can all expect from any municipality. After all, safety is the most basic function government provides. Not in River Forest. For the whole time we have been confronted with an almost impossible system, called “the process.” Every step of the way has been questioned and confronted with endless meetings, studies, and indecision.
When finally incomplete, unworkable remedies for cut-through traffic were finally applied, they were deemed conditional, experimental and removable. It took our village government less than 30 days to cave in to the first sign of opposition that offered no solutions other than they are inconvenienced.
Facts gave way to a popularity contest of which group could muster more bodies at traffic meetings. The traffic mitigation structures were watered down into an ineffective configuration that, ironically, aids eastbound cut-through traffic in the northeast corner. In the meantime, our schools and parks have had no special speed limits, no event parking coordination has been done, trucks legally roll through here hourly, and our alleys are a laissez faire traffic free-for-all.
Funny how this happens to exist in the few affordable housing areas of River Forest. Honestly, it’s a miracle no one has been hurt or worse in the last two years. With over close to two million annual car passages in this section of the village, probability is likely not on our side.
On August 28, our village board finally approved some sweeping measures. Alley signage plus speed bumps, two new stop signs and permanent structure to the modest traffic mitigation on Lemoyne and Greenfield at Harlem.
What was missing is more troubling. A truck ordinance on residential streets, school and park speed limit signs on Lemoyne and Greenfield, and event parking mitigation were completely ignored. Furthermore, a “No” vote to remove the only effective cut-through traffic mitigation on North Avenue (without replacement) was tabled for yet another two meetings. Somehow the same measures all our municipal neighbors have been applying for 30 years, affording their residents protection from unwanted highway traffic spillover, is deemed controversial here.
Undeniably, there has been a spirited group of residents and businesses who feel that residential streets should be subject to commercial and pass-through traffic as long as it’s not on their block. Unfortunately, our board and traffic commission don’t seem to grasp that all residents are entitled to protection from this.
Yet another meeting is scheduled on September 20 to decide to remove the last barriers on North Avenue, again without replacement of mitigation. The village officially in practice will be in denial that there is problem. We, the victim residents, will have achieved nothing in 2½ years.
River Forest is a conservative community, and certainly our boards and commissions reflect this. Change is tough for them. It’s time that our board and commissions stand up, be counted and do the right thing to stop pass-through traffic and provide traffic safety in our section of town and others.
Robert Armalas is a resident of River Forest.