Carpentersville considering traffic alternatives for Washington, Main
Carpentersville is considering alternate traffic patterns -- a roundabout or a signalized intersection -- to alleviate congestion at Washington and Main streets.
Tens of thousands of vehicles pass through the intersection daily and create a traffic bottleneck during peak times, HR Green Consultant Jack Melhuish said.
Cars often wait minutes before they're able to enter the intersection. Main Street traffic can back up to Otto Engineering, and cars on Washington Street can line up past Maple Avenue.
Recognizing the inconvenience, the village board recently adopted a two-year goal to work with an outside firm and improve the traffic flow in that area.
"(We're) finding out what, if any, improvements we can do to improve the operation and the safety of the intersection," Melhuish said.
The goal, he said, is to find a design that will have cars waiting at the intersection for no more than 35 seconds during peak times of the day. In a presentation posted on Carpentersville's website, Melhuish outlined three alternatives: Adding more signage or vehicular restrictions, installing traffic signals or creating a roundabout.
Because of the number of cars that pass through the intersection every day, he said, adding more signage or restricting the free-flowing traffic on Main Street isn't feasible.
"You'll see no improvement now, and you won't see it in the future," he said.
A traffic signal and a roundabout, Melhuish said, are comparable when considering the projected amount of time cars will be waiting at the intersection in 2040 -- 35 seconds or less during peak times, even when considering anticipated population growth.
Both options would add a bypass from Main Street to Spring Street, as well as one from Main Street to the southbound lane on Washington Street. Additional parking would also be made available on Wisconsin Street by turning parallel parking into diagonal slots.
Adding a traffic signal, however, could still cause backups when cars are waiting at a red light, Melhuish said. They also operate constantly and require maintenance, an electrical box and added electrical costs.
"With a roundabout, you're not really going to see any backups," he said. "You'll see a few vehicles here and there, but it'll be very limited."
He added that roundabouts are safer and can often be more aesthetically pleasing, with options to include landscaping in and around the intersection.
"But there's a learning curve. For some people it's very intimidating," Melhuish said.
"There's familiarity with traffic signals," he added. "Everyone knows how they work."
Federal funding options for a roundabout are also more readily available, Melhuish said. If a village were to choose a signalized intersection, he said, the project would likely be at their own expense.
The project is still in planning stages, trustees said, and public meetings -- where residents are encouraged to provide feedback on the traffic pattern options -- will be held prior to completion of the first engineering phase.
Assistant Public Works Director Kevin Gray added that the village is waiting on feedback from the Illinois Department of Transportation.
"We want to understand what the concerns are and try to come to a nice resolution," Trustee Paul Humpfer said. "It's not going to be perfect, but hopefully we can do something to try to alleviate the traffic."