Stoplights coming to site where fatal accidents occurred

By on September 25, 2009

State begins engineering work for project at Route 38, Meredith Road
by Martha Quetsch
Maple Park—Because of two fatal accidents at Route 38 and Meredith Road intersection and many crashes with injuries there, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) plans to install stoplights at the site, possibly by 2011.

IDOT program development chief Brian Carlson said Monday that the state is pursuing an aggressive schedule for the signalization project, but that what will drive its progress is the right-of-way acquisition. Land will be needed on which to install turning lanes, signal poles and possible drainage improvements.

He said following engineering and design of the project this fall, land acquisition could take 12 to 16 months. The process will include negotiating for land purchase from property owners, and if they do not agree to sell, taking ownership of the land through the federal government’s eminent domain laws.

Carlson said if all goes well, the stoplights’ construction could begin in spring of 2011.

Until early 2008, the intersection was controlled by stop signs only on both sides of Meredith. There were no stop signs on Route 38 at the intersection.

Following several accidents at the intersection in 2006 and 2007, including two fatal crashes, the state installed flashing lights on both roadways, warning approaching drivers of the intersection. In addition, in early 2008, the state installed stop signs on Route 38 at the intersection. County officials including former board member Jan Carlson of Elburn, urged the state to install those additional signs and signals.

The stoplight project will cost $1 million. It is among the state’s 2010-15 Highway Improvement Program projects, totaling more than $11 billion, announced last spring.

The local project will be funded, in part, with federal dollars the state received for safety improvements at locations where serious accidents have occurred, Carlson said.

During the next few months, IDOT engineers will do environmental screenings including wetland and drainage surveys at the Route 38 and Meredith intersection. When that and other engineering work is completed, it must be approved by the Federal Highway Administration so that the project qualifies for federal funding.

“We hope to get both done by the end of the year,” Carlson said. “Then we can commence with land acquisition for the right of way.”

Since Route 38 is an Illinois highway, the project will not involve participation from the Kane County Department of Transportation (KDOT), although county officials support the state’s installation of the stoplights as a way to improve safety at the intersection, said KDOT director Carl Schoedel.

No serious or fatal accidents have occurred since IDOT installed the stop signs on Route 38 at Meredith in January 2008. Accidents have occurred there since then, however, including one as recently as Aug. 28.

That morning, a two-car crash occurred when the driver of one of the vehicles failed to stop at the stop sign at the intersection, according to the Kane County Sheriff’s Department. A car driven by Jan Dabrowski, 77, of Florence, Colo., was westbound on Route 38 approaching Meredith Road. Another vehicle, driven by Susan Phillips, 60, of Sycamore, was southbound on Meredith Road. Phillips entered the intersection to continue south and was struck by Dabrowski, who failed to stop at the stop sign. No one was injured.

Kaneland Superintendent Charles McCormick said he has been pleased that the flashing light signals have worked well to alert drivers about the intersection. However, Kaneland School District officials support the signalization project, district transportation director Jim Ogle said.

“We are waiting for the installation,” Ogle said.

Crash history
The state plans to increase traffic control at Route 38 and Meredith Road in Virgil Township by installing four-way traffic stop lights at the intersection, which is just north of Kaneland’s high school and middle school on Meredith Road. The following accidents are among those that occurred at the intersection of Route 38 and Meredith Road in Virgil Township before the state installed stop signs on Route 38 at the site in early 2008.

• On Nov. 9, 2007, Carrie Hilliker, of Bradley, Ill., died from injuries she sustained in an accident at the intersection. She had been driving north on Meredith Road and when she entered the intersection, her vehicle was struck by another car and a semi-truck on Route 38. A passenger in Hilliker’s car was severely injured in the crash.

• On July 14, 2007, a St. Charles police officer Vaugh Olson, of Maple Park, was killed and two Elburn teen-agers were critically injured in a crash at the intersection. The teens, Melanie Carlson and Mitchell Westerlin, spent several months undergoing surgeries for and recovering from their injuries.

• On July 12, 2007, seven people were injured in a two-car collision, when a vehicle carrying three Naperville teenagers entered the intersection from Meredith Road after stopping at the stop sign. The teens’ car was hit by a vehicle traveling through the intersection on Route 38. One of the youths suffered a broken neck.

Between July 2006 and July 2007, 16 accidents took place at the intersection, with half of those involving injuries, according to the Kane County Sheriff’s Department.