Naperville mayor candidates offer different traffic fixes
The average Naperville resident struggling to drive north during the morning rush and south in the evening has at least one thing in common with the candidates to be the city's mayor: They're all concerned about traffic.
All four mayoral candidates in the April election say traffic is a problem in Naperville, though they describe it as a desirable problem because it means people want to live, work, shop and enjoy leisure activities in their city.
"We have traffic problems because people want to be in Naperville," candidate Marty Walker said. "The unfortunate side is you can't get through Naperville."
But each candidate to succeed the retiring George Pradel as Naperville's top elected official offers a different solution to the traffic problem.
Walker says the city should adjust traffic signal timing street by street to alleviate common backups.
Jim Haselhorst says the city's traffic problem needs a comprehensive solution because every time signals are adjusted on one street, drivers change their habits, causing backups elsewhere.
Steve Chirico says the planned implementation of an integrated traffic management system on Washington Street will help, as will good city planning to avoid creating future traffic nightmares.
And Doug Krause says the city needs to form better intergovernmental partnerships -- since many roads in Naperville are managed by a township, a county or the state -- and spend more on street improvements and maintenance.
Walker, Chirico, Haselhorst and Krause are squaring off in the April 7 election to be the first new mayor in Naperville in two decades.
Walker, a 62-year-old retired fire lieutenant, says Raymond Drive on the city's northwest side is one example of a street that could benefit from newly timed traffic signals.
"If they simply would time the lights differently at Brookdale and the entrance to the old Dominick's store and Ogden Avenue, that traffic could flow very smoothly," Walker said. "I've noticed if they timed the lights differently, it would make all the difference in the world. To me that would be a simple fix. You look at one street that's a problem street, one at a time, and have the lights timed."
Haselhorst, a 55-year-old dental practice manager, says a street-by-street approach won't work.
"The problem is as soon as you come up with the timing sequence for the lights, traffic flow shifts and your timing sequence no longer works," Haselhorst said. "You can't solve it piecemeal; it's not going to work."
He and Chirico, a 54-year-old business owner, said a traffic management system the city plans to install along Washington Street could help because it will be dynamic, allowing adjustments to be made in the moment based on the amount of traffic that's actually there.
"That will make pretty quick changes in the traffic flow," Chirico said.
Chirico said the system likely will take a year and a half to implement. In the meantime, the 95th Street bridge connecting to Boughton Road in Bolingbrook has opened and the widening of a three-mile stretch of Route 59 is scheduled to be complete this fall.
Krause, a 67-year-old real estate broker, said improving traffic requires better cooperation with other governmental agencies such as the state and the four townships and two counties within Naperville.
"You need to coordinate what you're doing with those streets, so to signalize them you can only do the ones you have control over," Krause said. "That's why you need to be working with some of the other governmental entities."
He also said the city should review the $11.6 million a year it has spent for the past five years on maintaining and improving roads. Increasing spending could help add more right turn lanes so drivers going straight don't have to slow down.
"Traffic is not just Naperville's problem," Krause said. "It's a regional problem."