Mount Prospect hopes turn restricts at intersection will help keep pedestrians safe

 
Updated 3/5/2020 2:08 PM

In a move aimed at creating a safer environment for pedestrians and bicyclists, Mount Prospect will begin restricting left turns for vehicles at Emerson Street and Central Road in the village's downtown.

Village trustees on Tuesday approved the change on the recommendation of village staff.

 

Under the new arrangement, left turns will be banned for vehicles headed eastbound on Central and southbound on Emerson. In addition, access to the north side of Emerson will be restricted with a right in/right out island, known as a pork chop, on the north side of the street.

A pedestrian refuge island will be installed in the center of Central Road. Completion is expected in the fall.

Left turns from northbound Emerson onto Central will still be allowed, without the current restrictions that ban them between 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

The changes are a byproduct of the village's strategic plan, which included a goal of evaluating pedestrian and bicycle crossings along Central Road and developing a plan for safe and efficient crossings.

Two studies, one initiated by the village and another conducted by the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration, recommended improvements at Central and Emerson, a crossing frequently used to reach the train station, library, village hall and downtown shopping and dining destinations.

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The crossing also was examined by the village's Transportation Safety Commission, which suggested banning turns from northbound Emerson onto Central.

But Assistant Village Engineer Matt Lawrie said staff was concerned that eliminating that left turn would push more traffic to adjacent streets. IDOT supported retaining the left turn as well, Lawrie added.

Only Trustee William Grossi voted against the proposal, citing concerns that continuing to allow that left would create a hazard for pedestrians.

"I would bet you that what you guys are doing will create more pedestrians trying to cross that area," he said. "And if you leave the left turn lane in, we will see pedestrians getting hit, because they will be sitting in the lane during rush hour, where they were used to no left turn, and now a car is going to come."

Village Manager Michael Cassady disagreed, saying too many restrictions would push vehicle traffic out of the downtown.

"I'm getting very concerned that people driving through our downtown are going to start avoiding our downtown because of all of the restrictions that are going to be in place," he said.

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