Oak Park residents, staff clash on cul-de-sac request

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By Anna Lothson

Staff Reporter

Trustees, police and fire officials, residents, and the chair of Oak Park's transportation committee spoke at Monday's village board meeting on the topic of cul-de-sacs vs. diverters, which led to a lengthy discussion about traffic patterns, quality of life, safety and access to the 1200 blocks of Rossell and Elmwood avenues.

Residents of the neighborhood that connects to North Avenue, spoke about drivers who ignore signs and rush through their neighborhoods to avoid lights and congestion during peak travel times. A recommendation from the transportation commission suggested installing a cul-de-sac on Rossell and a traffic diverter on North Elmwood, but neighbors want both blocks treated equally.

Fire Chief Thomas Ebsen and Deputy Police Chief Anthony Ambrose spoke about the safety and access concerns of cul-de-sacs. Fire departments aren't supportive of cul-de-sacs because they interfere with access from major roads, Ebsen said, pointing out that diverters don't cause the same access issues as cul-de-sacs.

Christopher Arado, who lives on Rossell, said there is a "universal understanding that there is a problem on these two streets," and claimed the traffic issues have been affecting quality of life for him and his neighbors. David Huber agreed and spoke about fast traffic coming through a neighborhood with a daycare.

"Cars are whizzing up and down Rossell," Huber said. "Signs are routinely ignored."

Citing statistics accrued by the village and the transportation commission, Elmwood Avenue resident Chris Hermann said his street has a significantly higher traffic volume and has more speeding and parking issues. He suggested the board keep that in mind when determining its decision.

Jack Chalabian, chair of the transportation commission, explained that village staff and the commission did not agree on all elements of the cul-de-sac/diverter proposal, but staff did provide several alternative options for the board to consider.

Trustee Ray Johnson touched on the unique situation of the two blocks and their location near North Avenue, but expressed concern about having cul-de-sacs added in an area that already has two cul-de-sacs nearby.

Trustee John Hedges suggested the board review similar instances so that this and future situations are dealt with fairly. A cul-de-sac study dating back to the 1980s was brought up by Village President David Pope, who, along with two other trustees, lives on a cul-de-sac, and the board later agreed to ask the transportation commission to look into a uniform decision in deciding which streets should have cul-de-sacs and which should have diverters.

The lengthy discussion ended with Johnson's recommendation to follow the staff's option of installing two temporary traffic diverters in the neighborhoods for 4-6 months to test how that affects the problem. From there, staff will come back to the village board to determine a permanent solution.

Email: anna@oakpark.com Twitter: @AnnaLothson

Reader Comments

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Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: October 18th, 2012 8:49 AM

OPRFDad: The barriers work for autos and their occupants,not for foot traffic. I propose a movable,sliding barrier to be opened and closed at certain times. Any one living on 1200 N. Edmer should have a problem w/ambulance traffic and the turn around to go back s/bound.

Get Local  

Posted: October 17th, 2012 11:10 AM

@get a clue The point is that while the Fire Chief can explain the village's preference, the default needs to be to defer to what neighborhood residents want. It may be chaos, but part of the reason we fight so often in OP is that you have a centralized govt thinking it knows best when reality is these decisions are best left to local needs. They know what is going on best.


Posted: October 17th, 2012 11:04 AM

IMHO, any street that opens to North, Harlem, Austin or Roosevelt should be cul-de-sacked. Take a look at the police blotter and you'll see all you need to. Restrict points of entry to a few, monitor those points, and get cops on people who souldn't be in the Village, and our crime problems will quickly go away.

re: WJ Editorial ripped by Pope  

Posted: October 17th, 2012 10:38 AM

Regarding David Pope ripping the WJ, David better be aware of what others on the board, or who work for the village are saying. Maybe not true, but a lot of people from the Village staff and one from the board seem to think that is the case. Why so defensive David, don't like that someone is questioning the Village's open checkbook/policies with pie in the sky developments? By the way, when is that Target opening up where the Colt building use to be, oh, that's right, pie in the sky developer

Get Local, get a clue  

Posted: October 17th, 2012 10:35 AM

Get Local, the Fire Chief isn't deciding anything, he is giving reasons why cul-de-sac's are a bad idea in terms of public safety. If your theory was applied, letting the residents make their decisions for their streets, well, this is Oak park, it would be sheer madness. Get a clue, their is a reason for village government/overshight, even as crazy as Oak Park's is. Can't wait to hear the responses on this one. Hilight of my week reading these comment boards on oakpark.com

Get local  

Posted: October 17th, 2012 8:18 AM

Why are we letting the Fire Chief or the Village Board or the commission decide this? Let the people who live in that neighborhood decide for themselves what works best for them. I'd want the same on issues that affect my part of OP. There's not some artificial limit on how many diverters or cul-de-sacs we can have...let's not try to paint the whole village with one brush. Stay local & let residents make the decisions for their own streets.

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