In an effort to alleviate residents' concerns about traffic, Liberty Street in Elgin will likely become a no-passing zone with bike lanes on both sides, possibly by the end of 2013.
What residents really want is for trucks to be prohibited from driving down Liberty Street, which is also Route 25, from Slade Avenue to Bluff City Boulevard, a much more difficult proposition because the road's jurisdiction falls under the Illinois Department of Transportation.
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"We have seen a dramatic increase in heavy trucks in the last couple of years -- semis, long tankers, gravel trucks, 18- wheelers. They are so noisy. It's the noise pollution as well as the air pollution from the diesel exhaust," resident Mary Ellen Barbezat said.
Liberty Street was designed as a residential street and became a state road in the late 1980s. The city has been working with residents since they first brought forward their concerns in summer 2011.
The city council is expected to request IDOT's permission to implement the no-passing zone and bike lanes as early as its Feb. 13 meeting, said Aaron Cosentino, the city's management analyst. Cosentino said IDOT's preliminary response was positive, and he's hopeful the changes will take place by the end of the year.
As for rerouting trucks, IDOT already rejected a proposal to do that either to the east on Dundee Avenue, or to the west along Summit Street, Shales Parkway and Bluff City Boulevard.
A proposal to reroute trucks west on Bartlett Road to Route 59 will be submitted to IDOT. "We're going to ask them about the feasibility of that route," Cosentino said.
IDOT has given the OK to install "no engine braking" signs that should address some of the noise caused by trucks, Cosentino said. That can happen as soon as the city council approves an ordinance.
Last year, the city put a pedestrian crossing at Franklin Boulevard, and enacted weight restrictions to prevent cut-through traffic on side streets.
Residents had proposed installing pedestrian crossing warning signs in the middle of the road, but for that IDOT rules require four feet of median.
IDOT is conducting a speed study to look into residents' requests to lower the speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph, Cosentino said. Elgin police data shows average speeds of 28.5 mph, with 90 percent of vehicles traveling slower than 35 mph, so the city is not recommending that, Cosentino said.
Barbezat, however, said she believes the data doesn't accurately reflect what residents witness every day. She said some cars can travel as fast as 40 mph or 50 mph, especially when faced with a green light.
"What we want to stress is that this kind of street cannot bear this kind of burden," Barbezat said. " ... It's destructive to our residential neighborhood, which is what we were originally."