Rt. 59 construction shifts top crash sites in Naperville
The most crash-prone intersection in Naperville last year is right in the middle of the Route 59 construction zone.
The intersection of North Aurora Road and Route 59 was the site of 75 crashes in 2014, the most at any one location within the city.
It's a highly traveled spot, as are all intersections in the top 10 for crashes last year, police Cmdr. Ken Parcel said. But the intersection also is just north of the underpass for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, a spot where construction narrowed traffic to one lane in each direction for much of the year, Parcel said.
"I suspect that would have an impact because people are merging lanes there," Parcel said.
A two-year, nearly $90 million project to widen a 3-mile stretch of Route 59 to three lanes in each direction, add turn lanes and create a new diverging diamond interchange with I-88 is shifting traffic patterns, and therefore accident locations.
But Parcel said a wider Route 59 between Ferry Road and Aurora Avenue/New York Street should make Naperville safer in the long run. Work is scheduled to conclude in September.
"The Route 59 construction for two years is going to disrupt any pattern that was there," Parcel said. "Hopefully the construction is going to have a positive impact because right now that roadway, as it was, is just not built for the amount of traffic that is currently going down it."
Four other intersections along Route 59 also were among the top 10 for crashes last year.
• I-88 and Route 59 came in fourth with 51 crashes.
• Diehl Road and Route 59 came in fifth with 42.
• 111th Street and Route 59 tied for sixth with 39.
• And 95th Street and Route 59 tied for 10th with 35.
A couple of those intersections actually moved to lower positions on the crash frequency list, specifically Diehl Road and Route 59 and 95th Street and Route 59.
Those two intersections tied for the most crashes in 2013 with 58 each. But in 2014, crashes decreased to 42 at Diehl and 59, and 35 further south at 95th. Especially with Diehl Road, which is near the northern end of the construction zone, drivers may simply be finding other ways to their destinations, Parcel said.
"My gut tells me that people are avoiding it, perhaps getting off (I-88) on Winfield or Eola as opposed to right there at Route 59," he said. "I do believe there have been some adjustments to driving paths."
Construction-fueled adjustments likely brought more accidents to River Road and Ogden Avenue as drivers used River as an alternate north/south route. The intersection wasn't among the top 10 for crashes in 2013, but in 2014, it came in eighth with 37.
Crashes were reported mainly during rush hours and often were rear-end accidents caused by following too closely or failing to yield.
Parcel suggests drivers increase following distance, decrease distractions, don't use their cellphones and simply pay attention to the road to avoid accidents.
"Our officers are in those intersections," Parcel said, "trying to do the best they can to change behavior and be visible, and try to intervene and educate along the way and issue citations on those that are having a direct impact on our response."