Deciding to have picnic at Maryknoll Park one night in early September, families with children, strollers and bikes in tow made the short trip from their homes. Once the group was at the intersection of Route 53 at Pershing Avenue, things became dangerous.
One father, who has been concerned about the intersection for some time—because it lacks a crosswalk—decided to shoot an impromptu video of the families as they attempted to cross the road. The video was posted on YouTube in the hopes that the Village of Glen Ellyn might add a crosswalk at the intersection.
Neighbors Eric Scharaga and Jeff Houston, who live near the park, occasionally make the trip on foot to the park, but say every time they do so, it’s a challenge without a crosswalk.
Because of the danger crossing the roadway, they had each contacted the village about the possibility of adding a crosswalk. But, for about three years, nothing has happened, Jeff Houston said. He said he contacted the village about three years ago. He contacted Glen Ellyn Patch and shared the YouTube video.
Houston said he had a yearlong dialog with a village employee, who said designs for the intersection had been made and agreed upon by the village and the Illinois Department of Transportation. But, that person is no longer employed at the village and nothing has been done at the intersection.
“I have been crossing this intersection with my family for 2 years. It is extremely dangerous,” Scharaga said. “Since there is not a crosswalk, drivers do not expect to see or look for pedestrians. I personally have had several close calls. What really scares me is that children cross at this intersection to get to the park. The current timing of the lights and the absence of a crosswalk threaten a serious accident. As it is right now, you have to stand in the lane of traffic waiting for the lights, and drivers do not look when turning right.”
When will work be done?
Both men have recently been in contact with village officials, including Village President Mark Pfefferman, who have said that work is underway to address their concerns, but both men question the amount of time it is taking to get anything done.
Julius Hansen, the Village of Glen Ellyn’s public works director, said the village has hired an engineer to create a design that would make improvements to the intersection. And, the work is being done now for the future improvements.
“I’ve been personally contacted by several residents,” Hansen said. “Village officials have been contacted. I believe that everyone is trying to pursue an improvement for the citizens so that things are safer.”
In addition to creating a design for the Pershing Avenue and Route 53 intersection, an engineer is also reviewing the intersection of Nicoll Way and Roosevelt Road (Route 38), which is another difficult intersection for pedestrians to cross, Hansen said.
Work in progress
“It is definitely a work in progress,” Hansen said. “The village is pursuing discussions and working with IDOT to make improvements.”
Once any designs are complete, they must be put before IDOT for approval, Hansen said. Then, the Village of Glen Ellyn’s Board of Trustees would need to approve the designs. From there, if the designs are approved, the job would need to be bid out before any work could be completed.
The costs for the engineer and the construction would be paid for by the village, because though the crossing is on IDOT’s right-of-way, it is not interested in making any updates, Hansen said.
“These are specific village needs and requests and so IDOT may not be as sensitive to village needs and requests,” Hansen said. “They are focusing on the big picture and larger projects.”
Hansen contends that if it was up to the village to do the work, it would be done at a faster pace, but because intergovernmental agreements have to take place and the village has to go through IDOT’s right-of-way and its process, the village must work when them and do what IDOT wants.
The design should be completed soon, Hansen said. “We are working on it. Our intention to make the best improvement possible.”
Long process and weather issues
In the meantime, Hansen said with the weather changing and the process that must be followed, any possible work on the intersections wouldn’t take place until next year sometime.
Scharaga said that he’s heard all of this before dating back to when he first started asking the village about the intersection.
“I would like to stress that in my opinion, there is a very high likelihood of a serious accident involving a pedestrian at this intersection,” Scharaga said. “The village needs to act immediately to insure the safety of all using such a high-speed, dangerous intersection so close to a premiere park.”