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Government

Elmhurst committee debates installing electronic sign at Palmer Drive underpass

Elmhurst Public Affairs and Safety Commitee Chairman and alderman Scott Levin comments at the committee's Jan. 8 meeting on a proposed policy change in which an electronic sign would replace banners that are currently installed for public messages on the Palmer Drive underpass bridges.
Elmhurst Public Affairs and Safety Commitee Chairman and alderman Scott Levin comments at the committee's Jan. 8 meeting on a proposed policy change in which an electronic sign would replace banners that are currently installed for public messages on the Palmer Drive underpass bridges.

ELMHURST – City of Elmhurst aldermen may soon decide what they think is best for signage on the bridges over the Robert T. Palmer Drive underpass, which lies between East First Street and East Park Avenue.

Currently, the city hangs banners featuring Elmhurst events and messaging on a weekly basis on both sides of the bridges, with one banner facing northbound traffic and one banner displayed to southbound traffic. An alternative that could be less expensive, show more messages and increase public and employee safety, according to a draft Public Affairs and Safety Commitee report, would be the installation of an electronic sign.

Following city staff updates to the proposal and another meeting of the committee, the policy change may advance to the Elmhurst City Council for discussion and possible approval, commitee Chairman and alderman Scott Levin said following the Jan. 8 commitee meeting.

This action follows more than a year of discussions about the signage format. The electronic signage has been in the city budget for at least five years, Levin said during the meeting.

Elmhurst groups, including schools and charities, currently request to have an up to 4.5-foot-tall, 50-foot-long banner hung on the overpass for a certain week of the year and pay a $35 fee. A two-man public works crew installs the banners on Mondays and closes two lanes of traffic to replace the previous week's banner, according to the committee report.

The current process costs the city about $22,000 per year, including labor, materials, equipment and mapower, the report stated.

An argument against replacing the banners with an electronic sign is that it may detract from the look and feel of the area.

"I think it takes away some of the charm [of the area] to add an electronic sign," alderwoman Dannee Polomsky said.

She added that the more people gather information online, the less they rely on seeing a message on a banner at the bridges. However, Levin said he sees informational items on the banners that he wouldn't necessarily see otherwise.

The sign would not blink or flash, according to the draft policy memorandum. Certain details for the signage proposal, such as duration of the display of the messages and hours for the electronic signage to be on during the day, have yet to be hammered out, and the issue is slated to return to the next committee meeting.

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