West Dundee police eager for construction hiatus
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No one is more anxious to see the routes 72 and 31 intersection work reach its hiatus this year than the West Dundee Police Department.
For more than a month, patrol officers have not only had to sit in long lines of traffic with the hundreds of other motorists, but they have listen to residents in surrounding neighborhoods complain about more traffic on their streets.
Police have also had to stop impatient motorists who are looking for shortcuts through the morning and evening traffic messes. In fact, the officers have stopped 59 motorists since work began. Those drivers could not wait like the rest of us.
Sometimes those stops resulted in traffic tickets or in verbal warnings to slow down, stop at intersections, not block intersections, or cool their tempers.
"Oh, there have been incidents of road rage," said police Chief Andy Wieteska. "I responded to the situation at Lisa (Drive) the other day where two guys were ready to come to blows because one car cut in front of the other when the lanes merged.
"Our officers are certainly looking forward to the work stopping for the year."
That may not be until Thanksgiving when the gravel pits close for the season and the temperatures drop. By then, the new lanes will be open and traffic will be flowing more freely. The $3 million project will not be completely finished, said Joseph Cavallaro, West Dundee village manager, but at least all the lanes will be functional.
"The project won't be completed until next year," Cavallaro said.
For months, the Illinois Department of Transportation project has snarled traffic in East and West Dundee and Carpentersville. Streetlight poles and street signs were moved, trees were chopped down, and front yards and sidewalks were dug into.
Then, barricades were lined up to reduce the number of existing lanes so construction workers could do their jobs safely. Long lines of cars, trucks, and buses followed. During morning and evening rush hours, motorists driving westbound on Route 72 lined up from Route 31 past the Fox River bridge.
Eastbound Route 72 traffic is just as bad. The same is the case for north- and southbound Route 31 traffic at morning and evening rush hours.
Impatient motorists look for any shortcut to bypass the jams. Many are turning to residential streets for quick relief. Judging from past road and bridge projects, West Dundee knew this would be a tough summer and fall for the driving Dundee public.
"Before the work started, we took precautions," Wieteska said. "We put up more stop signs in the residential street; we put flags on the stop signs and we put up 'No through traffic' signs."
They still didn't stop impatient commuters, police said.
While many of the 40,000 motorists who drive to and from intersection daily are complying, some aren't, he said. In August, police issued tickets for blocking intersections while motorists wait for traffic lights to change from red to green. Some were given tickets for not stopping at stop signs or disregarding the "No through traffic" signs.
The fines for the tickets are not cheap. Violators could pay at least $120 for blocking an intersection.
"Our main concern is to ensure the safety of residents and motorists on our streets," the chief said. "Fortunately, so far we have had only two minor accidents with no injuries."
As an additional precaution, the West Dundee police department has been parking an empty squad car along the side streets.
"The drone car has been very effective in slowing traffic down," Wieteska said. "By the time motorists approach it to see if it is empty or occupied, he or she has slowed down."
Ironically, the work to widen the intersection is under way to reduce the amount of cut-through traffic on residential streets. Before it started, motorists notoriously used streets like Washington Street to get home or to work quicker so they could avoid the congested intersection.
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