Elgin residents fight to reduce truck traffic
Homeowners on one of the longest residential streets in Elgin have banded together to get truck traffic out of their neighborhood. But the fight may be nearing a dead end.
Mary Ellen Barbezat, a Liberty Street resident since 1974, said in the last couple years she has noticed increased truck traffic on the road -- State Route 25. Barbezat and a core group of her neighbors formed the Liberty Street Residents group to petition city hall to do something about the issue.
"It's complicated, but a struggle that those of us who live here think is absolutely essential," Barbezat said, pointing to the noise and air pollution as increasingly unbearable.
Elgin Police Cmdr. Glenn Theriault said there has been no change in truck traffic in the time period the Liberty Street Residents point to. A 2010 state law allows trucks up to 80,000 pounds to travel on any residential street -- a law Barbezat said caused the increased traffic -- but police have noticed no change, according to Theriault.
Since residents approached the city more than a year ago, police have collected speed and volume data on the street and conducted extra enforcement. The city has put up load limit signs on the side streets, where the heaviest trucks cannot drive, and added a crosswalk at Liberty Street and Franklin Boulevard.
A six-week speed study in 2011 showed the average speed to be 27 mph with 85 percent of vehicles traveling at or below 32 mph.
"We are providing an extensive amount of enforcement in that area. However, big trucks make big noise and that is not something that can be regulated on a state route," Theriault said.
In February, the city submitted a formal request to the Illinois Department of Transportation to reroute truck traffic off Liberty Street. IDOT resoundingly denied the request. Among the five reasons were that a reroute would shift the problem to new homeowners, create a longer trip and take trucks past several spots IDOT already has identified as having high crash severity.
Aaron Cosentino, management analyst for the city, said the state will conduct a study to see about reducing the speed on Liberty Street to 25 mph from 30 mph. Because Liberty Street is a state road, the city can't do much more.
"Where we can help them and where we can make a difference, we have," Cosentino said.
Barbezat said the goal is to keep pushing until truck traffic is rerouted -- though she welcomes an intermediary fix of a reduced speed limit. That study should start in the next few months.
In the meantime, Barbezat and her neighbors will keep working to garner support for a more restrictive solution.
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