LA GRANGE – The state of Illinois is planning changes to the intersection at La Grange Road and Ogden Avenue after designating it in the top 5 percent of the worst performing intersections in Illinois, based on accident severity and frequency.
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) began data collection and engineering analysis on the intersection earlier this year and has a preliminary plan to improve it, though village trustees worry proposed changes could actually affect residents for the worse.
The core of the plan – as presented to the Village Board Sept. 23 by La Grange Public Works Director Ryan Gillingham – is the addition of a right-turn lane from westbound Ogden Avenue to north-bound La Grange Road.
Other parts include an increased turning radius at two corners of the intersection, new traffic signals, realigned crosswalks, countdown timers for pedestrians and a right-in/right-out intersection at Ogden/Locust Avenue.
With that setup, residents driving to Gordon Park could access the adjacent parking lot only from the east on Ogden Avenue.
"You’re literally cutting off three-fourths of our village from desiring to go to Gordon Park," Trustee Jeff Nowak said.
The village suggested a traffic signal for the intersection, but IDOT said that would be outside its current scope of work, Gillingham said.
“Signalization strikes me as a must, and I’m trying to get a handle on who’s going to pay for that and what is it going to cost?" Trustee Jim Palermo said.
The board also took issue with IDOT's plan to improve pedestrian safety. Although IDOT would realign crosswalks based on the widened intersection and reinstall pedestrian countdown timers, it would not add pedestrian safe harbors that break up long crosswalks or fund a pedestrian bridge over the railroad, an idea the village proposed.
“It’s insulting. They’re telling us not even to use the intersection they want us to improve," Trustee David McCarty said.
Another factor is the anticipated redevelopment of the former YMCA site at the northeast corner of the intersection, which would likely increase pedestrian traffic.
IDOT plans to complete a preliminary engineering report of the intersection by the end of the year, and construction is planned for 2015. Gillingham said the village would continue to advocate for a traffic signal at Ogden/Locust and relay the board's concerns to IDOT.