Skokie trustees OK traffic task force’s traffic safety recommendations
Trustee Randy Roberts chaired the District 73.5 Traffic Safety Task Force. The task force made 10 recommendations for safety improvements to the Middleton School area following a tragic accident in May. | Photo courtesy of the village
TRAFFIC SAFETY TASK FORCE
Results: Proposed 10 recommendations approved by the Village Board on Aug. 20 to make the area around Middleton School safer.
What now?: The task force meets again at 7 p.m. Oct. 3 at Skokie Village Hall to discuss safety conditions around District 73.5’s Meyer and McCracken middle schools. While this is scheduled as the task force’s last meeting, the village plans to consider safety conditions around all schools.
Updated: October 1, 2012 6:12AM
SKOKIE — A new stoplight at Main Street and Central Park Avenue and reducing the speed limit on Main were among the 10 recommendations approved Aug. 20 by the Skokie Village Board in efforts to make the area near Middleton School safer.
The Village Board’s approval of recommendations made by the District 73.5 Traffic Safety Task Force came nearly three months to the day 8-year-old Carter Vo was killed while out for a bicycle ride on the sidewalk at Main and St. Louis Avenue.
Trustee Randy Roberts, who chaired the Task Force made up of representatives of the village, the Village Board, the Police Department and citizens, said the package will make “the Main Street corridor near Middleton School much more safer.”
The committee met three times to form its recommendations, and different options were discussed. Roberts called the task force “one of the best experiences of my career as a trustee.”
Under other task force recommendations, all children and parents will be directed to cross at Main Street and Central Park Avenue; a police officer will direct traffic morning and afternoon until the signal is installed; traffic site lines will be improved; westbound turn-lane traffic will be restricted on St. Louis during school rush hours; turn movements will be restricted at Central Park except on a green light; specific parent drop-off and pickup circulation and bus loading will be determined; safety-zone signs and pavement markings will be upgraded; and police will use speed recognition and data services and step up police enforcement when necessary.
The most controversial of the recommendations was to reduce the speed limit to 25 mph from 30 mph on Main, though the school-zone area will remain at 25 mph.
A representative of Gewalt Hamilton, an engineering firm the village hired to study the area, said he didn’t believe reducing speed would necessarily make the area safer. Skokie police representatives also said they would prefer a reduced speed limit be brought in gradually if at all to see how the other changes work first.
Resident Mel Weintraub on Aug. 20 questioned some of the recommendations. He said that a traffic signal, which is estimated to cost $250,000 and take at least six months to install, will not necessarily solve the problem.
“As far as I can remember, this tragic incident is the first I ever can recall around Middleton School,” he said. “I can’t even remember a minor traffic accident happening on that stretch of Main Street.”
But anecdotal information and traffic statistics suggest that Main has a higher number of traffic accidents — albeit minor ones — than average.
Hanin M. Goma was charged with felony aggravated driving under the influence resulting in death, and misdemeanor driving under the influence of drugs after the fatal May 22 car crash. Area residents had expressed concerns — mostly about speeding — on Main and some side streets near the school before the crash even took place.