Des Plaines wants flashing lights at crossing where pedestrian killed

  • Des Plaines officials are asking the state for permission to install flashing lights at the Miner Street pedestrian crosswalk where a 70-year-old woman and two 13-year-old girls were struck by cars within hours of each other July 23.

      Des Plaines officials are asking the state for permission to install flashing lights at the Miner Street pedestrian crosswalk where a 70-year-old woman and two 13-year-old girls were struck by cars within hours of each other July 23. Christopher Placek | Staff Photographer, July 2015

 
 
Updated 8/19/2015 4:28 PM

Des Plaines officials want to install flashing lights that walkers and bicyclists can activate at the push of a button at a downtown crossing where two pedestrian crashes, one of them fatal, happened within hours of each other last month.

Officials say the high-visibility "rapid flashing beacons" would be placed near the Miner Street median as an additional safety measure prompted by the July 23 crashes, in which a 70-year-old Des Plaines woman struck by a car later died from her injuries, and two 13-year-old girls were injured.

 

The city also wants to apply thermoplastic stop bars to the Miner Street pavement some 30 feet from the pedestrian median crossing to promote greater visibility, said Tim Oakley, the city's director of public works and engineering.

But first the city is asking the Illinois Department of Transportation for permission, since it has jurisdiction over the road.

Oakley said IDOT typically doesn't get involved in pedestrian issues at mid-block crossings or intersections, so the city will be responsible for funding any safety features that are installed.

He said it's not standard to have flashing beacons at pedestrian medians such as the one in downtown Des Plaines, but it is standard to have stop bars applied to the street pavement.

When the median was built a few years ago, IDOT officials didn't want the stop bars installed over concern vehicles could stop frequently and cause rear-end collisions.

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"We're going to work out these details with IDOT," Oakley told aldermen this week at a city council meeting.

The first crash occurred at 1:44 p.m. July 23, when a pedestrian crossing Miner near Pearson Street was struck by a westbound vehicle driven by an 88-year-old woman. The pedestrian, Irma Diaz of Des Plaines, later died from her injuries, and the driver was ticketed for driving on an expired license and failure to yield to a pedestrian.

Less than two hours later at nearly the same spot, two 13-year-old girls riding their bikes across Miner were hit by an eastbound car.

Police Chief Bill Kushner said the 32-year-old driver in that crash was on her cellphone, and her view was partially obstructed by a box truck that stopped to allow the bicyclists to cross.

She was cited for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a roadway and failure to exercise due caution.

Kushner says there are 11 signs near the crosswalk that tell drivers to be aware of pedestrians.

The day after the crashes, officers began ticketing drivers who failed to stop as a police officer in plain clothes crossed Miner in the marked crosswalk. Police are targeting their enforcement efforts to peak traffic and pedestrian times, Kushner said.

So far, they've issued 35 tickets.

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