It’s back to the drawing board for members of the River Forest Traffic and Safety Commission regarding efforts to address cut-through traffic in the northeast corner of the village.
Officials voted last week to follow the recommendations of the commission to remove controversial temporary barricades at the intersections of North Avenue at Clinton Place and Bonnie Brae Place. In addition, officials voted to authorize Thomas Engineering Group of Oak Brook to perform additional traffic counts and speed studies on Jackson Avenue, Monroe Avenue, William Street, Clinton and Bonnie Brae north of LeMoyne Street. The traffic counts and speed studies also were recommended by the commission although officials added Jackson to the list of streets at the village board meeting.
Thomas Engineering was hired in October 2022 to conduct a village-wide traffic study for $98,644. The cost of performing the additional traffic counts and speed studies was estimated at $6,194, but that amount does not include adding Jackson to the list of streets to be studied.
The vote to remove the barricades and authorize the additional traffic study was 5-1 with the negative vote cast by Trustee Erika Bachner, who supported leaving the barricades at North and Bonnie Brae in place.
Before the board discussion, 10 residents commented on the proposed changes, most of whom supported removing the barricades.
Village board members and commission members have been wrestling with residents’ complaints of cut-through traffic from North and Harlem Avenue in the northeast corner for the village for years.
In October 2022, the village board authorized modifications to address those concerns. Implemented in late November and early December 2022, the changes affected LeMoyne, Bonnie Brae, Clinton, William and Greenfield.
In April, the village board voted to undo changes to Greenfield and LeMoyne streets at Harlem, adjusting barricades to allow southbound traffic on Harlem to turn right onto westbound LeMoyne and right on westbound Greenfield. The changes also restored two-way traffic on LeMoyne and Greenfield west of Harlem. The two streets had been one-way eastbound from the alley west of Harlem to Harlem.
In August, officials voted to convert the intersection of Clinton and LeMoyne to a four-way stop; convert the intersection of Bonnie Brae and Greenfield to a three-way stop; and install stop signs and seasonal speed bumps in the alleys between Harlem and William and from Greenfield to North. They also voted to replace plastic barricades at the intersections of Harlem with LeMoyne and Greenfield with permanent installations.
At the Oct. 23 meeting, Trustee Bob O’Connell praised the commission members for their efforts and thanked residents for expressing their opinions on the matter at numerous commission meetings and village board meetings.
“Let’s take the information and see where we land,” he said.
In response to a question from O’Connell, village Administrator Matt Walsh said the barricades at the two North Avenue intersections would be removed this week. After waiting three weeks for drivers to adjust to the changes, the traffic study will be conducted over a three-day period, he added. Walsh said he estimated the results of the study would be available in late November.
Regarding the issue of truck traffic raised by village President Cathy Adduci, Walsh explained that trucks are not allowed on certain village streets by ordinance, but streets could be added. Trustee Katie Brennan suggested that the commission study the issue.
In response to a question from Brennan, Walsh said obtaining data from a new traffic study would be preferred over using data from previous studies because the new data would reflect the changes that were made.
Regarding the issue of parking on residential streets by employees and customers of businesses on North Avenue raised by Trustee Lisa Gillis, Walsh said limiting parking to residents only would be possible.
In response to a question from Trustee Ken Johnson, Walsh said the time of year would affect the study, which is why it needs to be completed before winter.
In a related issue, the board voted unanimously to approve a contract with Christopher Burke Engineering Ltd of Rosemont to provide design engineering for replacing the plastic barricades at the intersections of Harlem with LeMoyne and Greenfield with permanent installations for $24,530. Walsh explained that the village needs to involve the Illinois Department of Transportation since Harlem is a state route. He estimated design engineering will be complete in late November, but the work will not take place until spring.