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updated: 11/6/2013 9:20 AM

Naperville looks to traffic study for citywide improvements

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The first report completed under Naperville's neighborhood traffic study program offers a few dozen specific recommendations, but officials say it's also valuable for suggesting broader lessons that can be applied citywide.

The report, approved unanimously Tuesday by the city council, evaluated traffic volumes and speeds in the area bordered by Edward Hospital on the north, Washington Street on the east, 75th Street on the south and West Street on the west.

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Its recommendations, which city staff members now can begin planning to implement, include replacing yield signs with stop signs, extending medians to shorten pedestrian crosswalks and refreshing pavement markings.

Council member David Wentz said the city needs to implement the recommendations but also look at the bigger picture.

"What best practices came from this study that we can apply elsewhere without having to do another 32 studies?" he asked, referring to the 33 traffic zones mapped out across the city. "Are there certain things here that we can implement elsewhere?"

While many recommendations pertain to specific intersections, Karyn Robles, transportation and planning services team leader, said the report also identified the need to evaluate visibility problems caused by mature parkway trees, to discontinue use of vague "Children at Play" signs and to develop educational materials about traffic procedures such as the state law that drivers must stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.

"We certainly have found things as a result of this study that we do think have implementations on a citywide basis," Robles said.

One of the specific recommendations for the first area in question, called Zone 11, is determining how safe the intersection of Gartner Road, Magnolia Lane and Modaff Road is. The intersection is offset, with Magnolia hitting Gartner slightly west of Modaff.

Initial ideas in the report, completed by Kenig, Lindgren, O'Hara, Aboona, Inc., suggested shifting Modaff 50 feet west, closer to Magnolia, or removing a grass median from Modaff to decrease the crossing distance for pedestrians. But while collecting traffic data, the city and consultants realized the strangeness of the intersection causes drivers to progress through it with care.

"Stop sign observance is actually very good," Robles said. "It causes people to hesitate and be very careful."

The city plans to leave the three roads in their current positions and begin implementing the study's recommendations over the next six months before determining if more traffic studies will be needed.

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