By Bob Uphues
The firm tasked by Riverside officials to complete a village-wide traffic survey has issued its draft report, which includes at least one recommendation that has residents of Lionel Road, in the southeast corner of the village, edgy.
The study recommends reclassifying a stretch of roadway that includes Riverside Road, Miller Road and Lionel Road as a collector route. The designation is used for streets designed to move traffic efficiently through the village.
Residents will get a chance to speak up on the recommendations in the draft report, which has been posted on the village of Riverside's website, at the village board meeting on April 20 at 7 p.m. In the past month, however, Lionel Road residents have already made their feelings known to village officials.
In short, residents fear reclassifying the street as a collector route will make traffic even worse in the neighborhood.
"I've seen an ever-increasing flow of traffic, from a steady stream to what is now, basically, a flood at rush hour, both a.m. and p.m.," said Martin O'Connor, a resident of Lionel Road for 18 years.
O'Connor said there is "a regular and pervasive disregard" for speed limits and the stop sign at Delaplaine and Lionel. Motorists also disregard the sign at Ogden and Lionel, which prohibits turns onto the street from Ogden Avenue during rush hours, O'Connor said.
"It's an issue of quality of life for everybody that lives on Lionel Road," said O'Connor, who was accompanied at the village board's April 6 meeting by a half dozen or so Lionel Road neighbors. "It's a residential street, and I'd like to see it remain that way."
Other collector routes in Riverside include Woodside Road, Desplaines Avenue, Longcommon Road, East Quincy Street and East Burlington Street.
Right now the Riverside Road/Miller Road/Lionel Road stretch is classified as a local road, which are roads that typically carry lower volumes of traffic. The report also recommends reclassifying Delaplaine Road, which arcs across the north and eastern part of Riverside, from a local road to a collector route. Delaplaine Road ends at Lionel Road, which then becomes either a point of egress to or ingress from Ogden Avenue.
According to Michael Werthmann of KLOA Inc., the company that performed the traffic study, reclassifying Riverside/Miller/Lionel and Delaplaine roads as collectors is simply a recognition of a reality that already exists.
Motorists do use those routes to get through the village, particularly during rush hours. Traffic counts the company did as part of the study confirmed the existence of higher traffic counts along those roads.
But residents worry the reclassification could make the situation worse, especially if GPS systems handle those streets differently.
"Will navigation systems all of a sudden start sending people down Lionel because it's now not a residential street?" asked Erin Calabrese, another Lionel Road resident.
According to Calabrese, 40 percent of the homes on her block have children age 6 and under.
Sandra Vega, who also has young children and lives on Lionel Road, said the traffic is a safety issue. Her kids like to play basketball in the driveway of her home and she parks a vehicle in front of the entrance to prevent the ball from rolling into the street.
"I, like everybody else, want less traffic let alone, God forbid, you redesignate the street and we have more traffic," Vega said.
Other recommendations in the traffic study call for adding 14 new all-way stop intersections and installing stop or yield signs in 30 locations where intersections have no traffic control at all.
The study recommends maintaining a blanket speed limit of 25 mph but to install signage for 20 mph park speed zones, which the village created a decade ago and never implemented.
In terms of bicycle safety, the report recommends "sharrow" markings – which combine an image of a bike and arrows – along collector routes that are also part of the village's bike route system and to install bike crossing warning signs at Longcommon and Addison.
The report also recommends traffic calming measures along collector roads, and on Woodside Avenue in particular, to slow traffic.