Bartlett settles on plan to widen Rt. 59, Stearns Road

The Bartlett village board Tuesday night narrowly selected a design to widen Route 59 and Stearns Road.

Trustees had their pick of three possible options, each calling for a different layout on the east leg. The one chosen by a slim majority is a "compromise" that considers the concerns of businesses and safety of drivers, Trustee Ray Deyne said.

The Illinois Department of Transportation first presented its solution to traffic congestion at the intersection in August 2014, calling for dual left-turn lanes in each direction.

But on the eastern portion, retailers and the owner of the Brewster Creek shopping center protested, noting that a proposed barrier median on Stearns Road would cut off access to the strip mall.

The state's original concept was still deemed the safest by the village's traffic consultant Bret Coulter after engineers offered two alternative designs.

The board, however, endorsed Tuesday night an alternative from IDOT and the DuPage County transportation department that shortens the median on Stearns past Route 59 and will add dual left-turn lanes in all directions. Village President Kevin Wallace cast the tiebreaking vote. Trustees T.L. Arends, Deyne and Michael Camerer also supported the measure, authorizing the village to kick their preferred design to IDOT engineers, who will finally begin more detailed studies on the project.

In addition, the village will commit an estimated $42,700 toward improvements at the intersection.

The board's choice still provides dual left-turn lanes on each leg, while the other alternative to the state's design did not.

"Keeping the integrity of the dual lefts at all the intersection portions is critical," Village Administrator Valerie Salmons told the board.

The plan's opponents were Trustees Vincent Carbonaro, Adam Hopkins and Aaron Reinke, who, in a straw poll earlier this month, preferred the state's original design.

Reinke said he fears traffic would use a one-way entrance off Stearns Road into the parking lot of a day-care center to get to the Brewster Creek shopping center.

"It seems particularly problematic to me," he said.

Following on a recommendation by Coulter, the board agreed to install signs restricting traffic to only patrons of the KinderCare center.

Coulter said all three options are safer than the current configuration, where rear-end collisions are the most common type of crash.

In the last three years, approximately 175 accidents have occurred at Route 59 and Stearns Road and "almost all" were in the middle of the intersection, Police Chief Kent Williams told the board.

"Stearns and (Route) 59 proper is the most dangerous intersection in the 30 years I've worked here," Williams said. "I've seen too many fatalities at that intersection."

Coulter said he expects the board's selection also will shorten delays and reduce the number of cars stacked up at the red light.

It could take another year, official say, before crews break ground on the widening project.

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