Why no arrow-only left turns on Fabyan at Route 31?

Waiting to make a left turn Tuesday onto southbound Batavia Avenue, Batavia Alderman Marty Callahan had a ringside seat for a crash.

An eastbound driver tried to make a left turn but probably didn't see an oncoming westbound driver in the waning seconds of a green light.

There is a slight curve on Fabyan that affects sight lines for turners. Left turns off Fabyan get a protected green arrow for a bit but also are allowed when the through signal turns green.

Local residents often post on social media about how they hate the intersection, considering it so dangerous that some go out of their way to avoid it.

In 2017, it was No. 1 on the Batavia Police Department's list of accident sites, with 29 crashes. In 2018 there were 25 crashes, 16 of which involved turning, mostly off Fabyan, according to police.

"It's almost unconscionable we don't have that left turn only on green," Callahan told his fellow aldermen at a committee meeting Tuesday night. He called for aldermen and the mayor to increase pressure on state and Kane County officials to improve the intersection and to enlist Geneva elected officials, too. "They're (the state and the county) not yielding to (the city) staff," Callahan said.

But they may not get the answer Callahan wants from Kane County, which controls Fabyan. And Batavia Avenue, or Route 31, is a state highway.

The county transportation committee is due to vote Tuesday on an agreement for safety improvements at intersections along Fabyan Parkway from Kaneville to Kirk roads. If approved by the full county board, the signals at Batavia Avenue will be fitted with backplates with reflective borders, meant to increase the signals' visibility, according to Steve Coffinbarger, assistant director of the Kane County Department of Transportation.

But turning on arrow only? No.

Why? Because of the Fabyan bridge over the Fox River.

The turn lane on the westbound leg isn't long enough to hold all the vehicles that would stack up waiting to turn south, Coffinbarger said. Traffic would back up in a through lane as far back as the bridge.

County officials worry there would be more rear-end crashes by drivers not expecting stopped vehicles in that 40 mph zone, particularly when the road is wet or icy, Coffinbarger said.

The angle of the bridge limits the length of the left turn bay, Coffinbarger said. The bridge is in pretty good shape and so won't be rebuilt anytime soon, other than having the deck replaced in about 10 years, he said.

The county is working on plans to install flashing warning signals to let drivers know a signal is about to change to red. It is also investigating using a dilemma-zone detection system. Such detectors sense how many vehicles are in the space where drivers face the dilemma of whether to brake or continue through, when a green light is about to turn yellow. A computer would decide whether to extend the green a little bit.

"We hear them (city officials) and it is something we continue to look at," Coffinbarger said. "It's on the forefront of our radar."

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