Route 59: Where most crashes occur in Naperville
The three intersections with the most crashes last year in Naperville all had one thing in common: they were on the northern stretch of Route 59 in an area that was being rebuilt as part of a major construction project that ended in November.
The highest number of accidents in the city, 73, came at the intersection of Route 59 and I-88, police said. Route 59 and Diehl Road was not far behind with 67 reported crashes, and Route 59 and North Aurora Road came in third with 60.
During 11 months of last year, the Illinois Department of Transportation had a three-mile stretch of Route 59 -- including the city's three most crash-prone intersections -- under construction to widen the road and install a new "diverging diamond" interchange with the tollway.
"We're hoping the reeingeering of the roadway will help reduce the crashes in that stretch," Naperville police traffic Cmdr. Ken Parcel said.
But did construction cause the high number of crashes? Parcel said it likely was a contributing factor.
Last year's top three intersections for crashes also were among the top 10 in 2014, when road work was under way continuously. Route 59 and I-88 came in fourth two years ago with 51 crashes, Route 59 and Diehl was fifth with 42 collisions and Route 59 and North Aurora Road ranked first with 75.
Parcel said the city and the department of transportation pursued the $90 million widening project not only because Route 59 was congested with more cars than it could handle, but also because of the high number of crashes reported there.
The new layout of the interchange at I-88 is designed to remove left turns across traffic and decrease the likelihood of collisions.
"It does seem to create better flow," Parcel said. "There's less backup during our rush hours both in the morning and the evening."
With road work finished except for landscaping and sidewalk installation, Parcel said this year begins an evaluation period to see if the widened road, extra turn lanes and decreased side-street connections will make Route 59 a safer place for drivers.
"It'll be interesting to see what 2016 brings," he said.
Route 59 construction had another effect on crashes, too, Parcel said. It could have increased crash volume at places such as Ogden Avenue at North Aurora Road and Raymond Drive. There, drivers reported 53 crashes in 2015, the seventh-most in Naperville.
"Through the construction period we saw increased traffic on Raymond and Ogden and North Aurora because people were trying to avoid Route 59," Parcel said.
Regardless of construction, Parcel said driving tips to decrease crashes remain the same: Slow down, follow the speed limit, increase following distance, ignore distractions and concentrate on the road.
Naperville police will begin one new initiative this year to increase traffic safety. Parcel said the department will use its Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NapervillePoliceDepartment/ and its Twitter @NapervillePD to post locations where officers will focus extra patrols looking for speeding, drunken driving and other unsafe behaviors.
"We're actually hoping people will heed the warning and say, 'Oh, the cops will be here the next day or two. Let's slow down,'" Parcel said. "Our goal here is to reduce the crashes, reduce violations of the law and actually make it safer."