A second Trustee has jumped on board the idea of a village wide traffic study that emanated from a rival Trustee’s quest to eliminate uncontrolled intersections after the death of an Oak Lawn resident.
Trustee Alex Olejniczak (Dist. 2) addressed the issue of a traffic study at a recent Village Board Meeting, stating “I know that school is back in (session) and I know that speed, and the movement of speed and how people conduct themselves while they’re driving out in the various streets of the Village of Oak Lawn has got to be my number one topic of discussion that residents bring anytime I talk to residents…”
He continued to say that traffic and the flow of traffic has been a topic of discussion.
In his report, Olejniczak appeared to signal a change of heart by the administration claiming that the village manager was looking at traffic studies. “Larry you’ve been working with our legislation to see if there is any type of grant monies out there to work on a program so we could do a study in the village of Oak Lawn.” Oleniczak said he would like to do a full complete and comprehensive study throughout the Village of Oak Lawn.
The Daily Southtown, the Oak Lawn Leaf, Oak Lawn Reporter, the Chicago Tribune and WBBM News Radio 780 have reported that longtime Trustee Robert Streit is championing the idea of the village installing at least one right of way sign at every uncontrolled intersection.
When drivers approach intersections without traffic lights or signs that specify who has the right-of-way they often assume that the other person has a stop or yield sign. When an intersection doesn’t have a sign, tragedy can strike.
On Memorial Day, Jackie Chavez Ruiz, a resident of Streit’s district, was driving at such an intersection when another vehicle upended her vehicle resulting in her death. She left behind a husband and four young children. Streit said that a stop sign or yield sign may have saved her life.
Oak Lawn’s Village Manager Larry Deetjen and its Police Chief, Michael Murray, had disagreed. Murray wrote to Streit recently expressing his disagreement, “Signage does not always equate to obedience.”
“If you put a stop sign at every intersection,” Murray said, “people will have a tendency to speed up to make up time from stopping at so many stop signs, so you’re getting an unforeseen consequence based on placing a sign.”
Streit said that a stop sign is not needed at every intersection but there should be some sign, such as a yield sign. Allies of Mayor Sandra Bury have ridiculed the idea falsely claiming that such signs would cost $500,000. The signs are installed by the village’s public works crews.
The traffic control dispute previously gained the interest of an expert in the field who has done studies for many other municipalities and worked recently with Oak Lawn High School on traffic flow, and Advocate Christ Hospital with its recent expansion.
The firm, Kenig, Lindren, O’Hara, Aboona, Inc has also prepared Village-wide traffic control studies for many communities such as Mount Prospect, Downers Grove, Darien, Naperville, La Grange Park, Morton Grove, Deer Park, and Oak Park.
One of its principals, Eric Russell, wrote an email to Streit recently offering his expertise on any study that may take place. Streit said he forwarded the email to Village Manager Larry Deetjen for discussion purposes.
Streit said that he would welcome an independent study on the issues of traffic control and traffic flow. “Residents are concerned about traffic control at intersections and any expertise that can be brought into the conversation would benefit Oak Lawn residents,” said Streit.
Russell said that neighborhood traffic control must be viewed as a system, and there is federal criteria on where stop controls are justified. The goal is to keep traffic moving in the neighborhood, but to assign the right-of-way at most intersections and to try to calm traffic speeds where it is possible. Streit said that he welcomed Olejniczak’s support of a comprehensive study.
“As village officials, we should all be concerned with the safety of our residents as they drive, bike or walk through the residential areas”, said Streit. He added that he had been disappointed with previous responses from administration officials that seemed to ignore the problem.