A traffic study designed to suggest solutions to ongoing problems at places like Fairbank Road, Barrypoint Road and other locations in Riverside likely won’t take place until at least early 2016.
On June 4, the village board of trustees rebuffed a request by Village Manager Jessica Frances to sidestep a call for proposals and hire a firm already familiar with working in Riverside.
“We’re talking about a no-bid contract without a defined scope,” said Trustee Michael Sedivy. “Garbage in, garbage out.”
The idea of a traffic study followed in the wake of complaints last year by residents along Barrypoint Road and the 100 block of Fairbank Road. The roads receive heavy traffic, especially during the morning and evening commutes. Residents complained of speeding that makes the area unsafe.
Residents last fall called on the village board to implement immediate measures, such as speed bumps or making streets one way, to combat the problem. But in the absence of other data, village trustees were reluctant to do that.
Instead, the village board vowed to set aside $30,000 in 2015 for a traffic study that would address particular traffic hot spots within Riverside. That amount was included in the village’s 2015 operating budget.
However, because of the cost of the study, the village is required to obtain bids for the work. Frances told trustees on June 4 that once the village issues a request for qualifications, it could be anywhere from eight to 12 weeks before work could move ahead on the traffic study.
Instead, Frances suggested the village hire Rosemont-based Kenig, Lindgren, O’Hara, Aboona Inc. (KLOA) to do the study. On June 4, Frances asked whether trustees would approve entering into a contract with KLOA for an amount not to exceed $30,000.
KLOA has done at least one other traffic study in the recent past to assess traffic conditions around Hauser Junior High/Central schools in Riverside. The village shared in the cost of that study, which led to some changes in the way children are dropped off and picked up at the schools.
But approving such a deal would lock the village into a contract and price before knowing the exact scope of the work to be done, and that didn’t sit well with trustees. Trustee Scott Lumsden, who lives on Fairbank Road and was one of the residents complaining about traffic last year, said he wanted to make sure the study focused on safety and not just numbers.
And while he knew residents who complained last year were hopeful of solutions quickly, Lumsden said he supported going through the lengthier process involving a request for qualifications.
That view was shared by Trustee Doug Pollock, who said the recommendations of the traffic study likely would be controversial and that the village needed to make sure it had been diligent in setting the parameters for the study.
“There are going to make some really difficult recommendations,” Pollock said. “Someone’s ox is going to get gored.”
Pollock added that at a time when the state of Illinois was threatening to cut revenues for municipalities, he wanted to be sure the village really needed to spend the money on a traffic study.
“We just have to be real cautious of any money we’re spending right now,” Pollock said.
Meanwhile, Trustee Ellen Hamilton said she was uncomfortable with simply setting $30,000 as an amount for the study without knowing what exactly that money was going to buy. By obtaining proposals, she said, the village could get a better sense of not only the cost but how far-reaching the study could be.
Would the study focus on just a couple of key spots or would it assess traffic village-wide?
“If we drive the project by the budget at hand, there’s no way we’re not going to miss something,” Hamilton said. “To drive this project by the money we set aside is short-sighted.”
Village President Ben Sells cautioned that by soliciting proposals, it would delay a traffic study into the early fall. But doing it at that time wouldn’t be optimal, he said, because at that time the village would be in the midst of the East Burlington Street reconstruction project, which will affect normal traffic patterns.
“Realistically, we’re looking at next spring,” Sells said.
Frances in a separate interview said she has begun drafting the request for qualifications and has amended the scope to include a village-wide traffic safety study. Proposals should be back in the hands of the village anytime between mid-September and mid-October.