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Brookfield discusses dangerous driving on side streets off 47th Street

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013 1:41 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, July 25, 2014 4:46 a.m. CDT

BROOKFIELD – Eric Rodzankas said he is lucky to be alive after a driver sped past him as he crossed the street outside his home.

“My dog and I were crossing the street. [The driver] accelerated and went around me. I leaned back or else he’d have hit me,” Rodzankas said. “My dog was crushed.”

Rodzankas said the man who killed his dog was one of many reckless drivers he has seen cutting through side streets off of 47th Street to avoid traffic jams at 47th Street and East Avenue. 

“Across the street we have an apartment building with a lot of kids,” said Rodzankas, who lives in the 4600 block of DuBois Boulevard. “My dog was just playing with them. It could’ve been a kid.”

Rodzankas was one of many residents who voiced their opinions on a plan to restrict access to certain side streets along 47th Street during peak hours at a public meeting of the Board of Trustees on Nov. 11.

Brian Duffy, who also lives on the 4600 block of DuBois Boulevard, said the high volume of cars buzzing through his block makes him fearful for the safety of his wife, who is legally blind.

“Something has to be done before someone gets hurt,” Duffy said. 

The long freight trains that crawl past the intersection of 47th Street and East Avenue seem to encourage people to cut through, Duffy said.

“It is absolutely ridiculous whenever there is a train. Cars just come flying down the street with no regard for traffic signals, cars or people whatsoever,” he said.

Despite agreement that something should be done to stem the tide of traffic down the side streets along 47th Street, the discussion at the meeting made it clear that there are many variables to consider before enacting an ordinance.

Local businesses along 47th Street have expressed concern that restricting traffic would be detrimental to their business.

“I know that is a problem,” Melanie Kosar, owner of Swan Cleaners, said at the meeting. “I’ve worked there since 1987 – it is a bad intersection I agree – but let’s just not forget there is a business on that corner.”

Swan Cleaners is primarily accessible by first turning from 47th Street onto DuBois Boulevard, making an outright ban on all traffic down the street during peak hours harmful to Kosar’s business.

“I would love to work with our neighbors to solve this problem, but we can’t forget there is a business there that employees Brookfield residents,” Kosar said.

Village Manager Riccardo Ginex said that his offices had received similar concerns from other businesses along the busy street that might be affected by completely closing northbound traffic from 47th Street onto roads like Blanchan Avenue, DuBois Boulevard, Deyo Avenue, Raymond Avenue, or Arthur Avenue.

During the discussion, Village Attorney Richard Ramello was asked whether the village could put up signs on 47th Street restricting traffic only to local drivers, or only to only those driving on the side streets with the intention of going to the businesses along 47th Street.

“It becomes a practical issue of enforcement,” Ramello said. “You are going to find that everyone you give a ticket to is going to say ‘I was at the business,’ or ‘I intended to go to the business but it wasn’t open.’ If you go to traffic court you will hear a lot of excuses.”

Village President Kit Ketchmark said he is more concerned about resident safety than he is about prosecuting drivers in traffic court.

“Whatever we do, the point isn’t to issue tickets, it isn’t the issue to go to court, it is to prevent this from happening,” Ketchmark said. “Whatever we do it should be as clear as can be to people that they are not supposed to be going down that street at that time.”

Ginex said the village may seek the opinion of a consultant on the best way to proceed.

Until an ordinance that addresses the problem is passed, Trustee Michael Garvey said the police department would try to step up enforcement in the area to catch people breaking the speed limit. 

The board may discuss or vote to adopt the plan at their next meeting.

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