The Illinois Department of Transportation in June announced it is recommending the installation of a southbound right-turn-only lane on First Avenue at Ridgewood Road in Riverside, which is a school crossing for Riverside-Brookfield High School.

Diane M. O’Keefe, deputy director of highways for IDOT, made the announcement in a letter to Riverside resident Randy Brockway, who is leading the charge to implement safety measures at the intersection.

Brockway and his ad hoc group have been lobbying local and state agencies, school districts and Brookfield Zoo to get behind their proposal to construct an overpass/underpass at the intersection and connect it with the Salt Creek Bike Trail. But the group is also pushing for safety measures generally at the intersection.

In response to Brockway’s group, IDOT completed a study of accidents at that intersection and reported that between 2005 through some portion of 2010, there were 81 crashes. Of that number 48 percent were rear-end collisions, but 38 percent were collisions during turns. Four of the crashes involved bicyclists or pedestrians.

“In an effort to reduce the potential for crashes and to improve traffic signal operations at this intersection, the department recommends the installation of an exclusive southbound right turn lane along IL 171 in addition to modernization of the existing traffic signal,” O’Keefe wrote.

The new traffic lights being recommended would be the “count-down” type of signal, according to the letter.

There is a hitch, however. There’s no funding for the recommendation.

“These improvements will be considered for funding in future highway programs but will have to compete with other highway needs in the six-county area,” O’Keefe wrote.

Village Manager Peter Scalera said he has been in touch with officials from IDOT, urging them to fund the improvements.

“We are lobbying IDOT to include that project in their capital plan and to fund it,” said Scalera. “The study clearly shows it’s warranted, and we feel it should be funded sooner rather than later. We feel those improvements will greatly enhance safety at that intersection.”

-Bob Uphues