Can closing a turn lane improve safety? Vernon Hills aims to find out
Vernon Hills aims to find out for tough intersection
Widening roads is a common way to move more traffic, but at one intersection in Vernon Hills, a lane will be taken out of service with the hope of improving safety.
Starting Monday, delineator posts will be installed every 20 feet to effectively close the right turn lane on westbound Gregg's Parkway onto North Huntington Drive. Right turns still will be allowed from a combined through/turn lane.
The temporary setup will remain for about six months. After that, traffic data will be compared with previous results to determine the best way to permanently address what is considered a dangerous intersection for pedestrians and vehicles.
Gregg's Parkway is a winding boulevard connecting Milwaukee Avenue (Route 21) with Butterfield Road, two main routes in south central Lake County.
About 12,500 vehicles a day travel east from Butterfield through the sprawling, upscale Gregg's Landing subdivision.
The issue has been for drivers turning left, or east, onto Gregg's Parkway from Huntington Drive. Vehicles using the right turn lane onto Huntington can block the view of through traffic on Gregg's Parkway for drivers waiting to turn, resulting in accidents and near-misses.
"The same thing is happening with cars as with people crossing," David Brown, village engineer/public works director, says on a village video regarding the project.
The Lake County Division of Transporation agrees with temporarily closing the turn lane. It has a say because of an agreement with the village and developer to extend sewer and water when Gregg's Landing was built more than 20 years ago.
Gregg's Parkway was designed to carry a lot of traffic and doesn't function as a local road, Brown said. The original plan called for five lanes on Gregg's Parkway and Huntington Drive.
But all parties ultimately agreed an aesthetically pleasing boulevard system with limited access would be best.
As conditions change, the village has been studying ways to improve safety at the intersection for seven or eight years, according to Brown.
Measures such as a pedestrian refuge in the center of the crosswalk have been taken, for example.
But village officials wanted a more detailed look at the intersection and authorized a traffic study for $19,500.
The study was completed in November. Nine possibilities emerged, including building a "compact urban roundabout" for about $625,000 or installing a traffic signal for about $425,000.
While traffic warrants a signal, residents don't support it and it doesn't improve safety compared to other alternatives, according to Brown. The smaller-scale roundabout also has issues, he said.
"We'd like to know the right way to go before we make a permanent change," Brown said of the temporary setup.
Gregg's Landing resident Amy Kamai said closing the turn lane won't address speeding and drivers not respecting the pedestrian crosswalks.
She suggested that traffic circles, speed bumps and automated crosswalk signs along Gregg's Parkway would be more effective.