Des Plaines city officials are pushing for a traffic signal at Lee Street and Forest Avenue, an addition that would require permit approval from the Illinois Department of Transportation since Lee (U.S. Routes 12/45) is under state jurisdiction.
"That's a dangerous intersection," 6th Ward Alderman Mark Walsten said during this week's city council meeting. "Somebody's going to get hurt."
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City staff is working on getting new traffic volume counts at that intersection with the hope of meeting at least one of nine federal warrants for a traffic signal, said Tim Oakley, city director of public works and engineering.
"We should be able to complete the counts this week," Oakley told the council.
Oakley said accidents at the intersection haven't been so severe as to meet the necessary criteria for a traffic signal. Other criteria relate to the volume of traffic passing through the intersection.
Fifth Ward Alderman Jim Brookman said the city shouldn't wait for a serious accident before acting.
In 2010, the city applied for and received a free traffic count and signal warrant analysis for the intersection from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. The analysis showed traffic volumes well short of what is needed to meet federal requirements.
The minimum traffic level needed for a signal on Forest Avenue is 80 vehicles per hour for at least four hours during the day, not counting vehicles making right turns, according to a city memo.
The addition of Boston Fish Market at 1225 E. Forest Ave., east of Lee near ALDI, did not significantly increase the traffic volume on Forest, as anticipated.
Some residents have previously expressed concerns about traffic increasing along Forest west of Lee, should a traffic signal be installed at Lee and Forest, city officials said.
If a signal is approved for that intersection, the project would include center left turn lanes on Lee, which would require the acquisition of additional right of way from IDOT and affect adjacent parking lots, Oakley said.
The traffic signal also would have to be synchronized with signals at Lee and Algonquin Road, and Oakton Street. The project could cost roughly $1 million, which was the final cost of the recently-installed traffic signal at Lee and Perry streets in downtown, Oakley said.