It appears that the squeaky wheel may be getting the oil, with engineers from the Illinois Department of Transportation reportedly agreeing to implement pedestrian safety measures requested by Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel in and around the intersection of First Avenue and Ridgewood Road/Forest Avenue.
It’s unclear, with road repaving on First Avenue still ongoing, whether those measures can be implemented by the Aug. 14 start of Riverside-Brookfield High School’s academic year.
But, Weitzel nevertheless was pleased that his pleas to IDOT to take some action to enhance safety at what is a dangerous intersection along a state highway have been heard.
“I don’t know if they looked at me as a chronic complainer,” said Weitzel, “I’m just glad they’ve agreed to implement these measures. This is all about pedestrian safety.”
Weitzel and Riverside Public Works Director Edward Bailey met with a pair of IDOT engineers at the site in mid-July in response to a letter Weitzel sent IDOT’s acting director back in March, requesting consideration of several measures – from enhanced roadway markings to flashing signals to the installation of protective bollards at each corner.
During that meeting with IDOT engineers on July 10, Weitzel laid out “what we thought was a minimum” to enhance safety at First Avenue and Forest/Ridgewood. The result of that hour-long meeting, said Weitzel, was an agreement by IDOT to implement the following measures:
IDOT will install high-visibility ladder-type crosswalks at each of the four crossing points. The crosswalks will be reflective, durable thermoplastic markings. The existing markings are not reflective, said Weitzel.
In addition, Weitzel said he pushed for and received an agreement for IDOT to place some sort of “school zone” markings on the pavement along each approach to the intersection.
The actual wording of the markings will be up to IDOT, said Weitzel, but the markings will also be of the high-visibility, reflective thermoplastic type.
Finally, IDOT engineers told Riverside officials they were free to apply for permission to install flashing yellow lights on First Avenue along the north and south approaches to the intersection. Weitzel said that, if approved, the flashing lights would be installed on an already existing IDOT school crossing sign north of the intersection.
South of the intersection, lights would have to be installed on a new pole near Parkview Avenue. In either case, said Weitzel, installing the flashing lights would come at the expense of the village.
Weitzel said he would recommend using funds the police department receives from traffic offense convictions for that purpose.