Crete Township Roundabout Suggested for Exchange/Burville

Those who pass the intersection of Exchange Street and Burville Road often do so at their own risk due to poor sightlines from a curve there. (Photo by Mary Ann Gearhart Deutsche)
Those who pass the intersection of Exchange Street and Burville Road often do so at their own risk due to poor sightlines from a curve there. (Photo by Mary Ann Gearhart Deutsche)

By Karen Haave

Traffic safety and operations issues at Exchange Street at Burville Road were at the forefront of a recent public information meeting in Crete Township.
The meeting, which drew more than 60 residents, focused on intersection improvements there, including three options proposed by the Will County Division of Transportation and the Crete Township Road District: A four-leg roundabout, a dog bone roundabout, and signalization at the intersection.
A four-leg roundabout is an unsignalized intersection “and is considered one of the safest types of design that operates with vehicles yielding upon entry,” according to WCDT information provided during the meeting.
“This alternative is designed to have Stoney Island Avenue and Burville Road intersect Exchange Street at one intersection.”
The dog-bone roundabout functions the same as the standard roundabout, with vehicles yielding on entry. The WCDT explained that, “To reduce impacts to the area, Stoney Island Avenue and Burville Road are kept separated. While it looks like two roundabouts combined, it functions as one intersection.”
The third option, a signalized intersection, would use “traffic signal equipment to control the flow of traffic, improving operations compared to a stop-controlled intersection.”
Officials say improvements of some sort are needed because statistics show that 63 vehicular crashes occurred at the intersections between 2017 and 2022. Rear-end collisions account for 65 percent of the accidents, which caused one fatality and 14 injury crashes during that time.
Officials explained that the alignment of Burville Road masks the horizontal curve approaching the intersection. There is no left-turn lane and limited visibility, and the situation only worsens at night.
Residents all agreed that some improvements are necessary, but each of the three that were proposed met with some opposition.
Some residents said the 45 mph speed limit is too high to make a roundabout safe, while others said they are confusing and “nobody knows how to drive in a roundabout.”
At the same time, some residents felt that the roundabouts were the best options because drivers would have to slow down going through the intersection.
The third alternative, a traffic light, is all but out of consideration because of funding issues, according to Christina Kupkowski, WCDT Phase I Project Manager.
“We wouldn’t get federal funding with that alternative,” she said. “The signal, while it would improve things, would not improve it enough (to warrant federal funding). “It’s something that we will look at, but, … we would really be able to use that (money).”
She said whatever improvements eventually are made, the overall project is expected to cost between $4 million and $5 million.
Among the residents who offered additional options, long time homeowner Barbara Wayne suggested installing a caution light approaching the intersection.
“Really, it’s like taking your life in your hands, getting onto Stoney Island north,” she said.
Among the most candid of those commenting was Dorrie Scartozzi, who lives less than a mile from Burville and Exchange.
“I think the proposals are dumb,” she said. “They won’t improve the situation at all, in fact. I am sure the county and the engineers have already decided what is going to happen.”
She offered another suggestion.
“In Rockford, they have a bridge over the DesPlaines River, and if you aren’t a resident of that area, you pay a toll. It is convenient to pay the toll because you aren’t going through the business section. I did it when my children played soccer tournaments up there.
“Maybe our elective officials should be there and take a count of how many Indiana residents use Exchange in the morning going to work in Chicago, versus Crete Township people.
“Also in the afternoon rush hour, go down Burville to Exchange to go east to Indiana. I am sure if you asked residents of this area the Indiana people see there is an opening on Exchange and don’t even stop at the stop sign at Burville are making the people on Exchange slow down, or they will be hit by the car who has the right of way.
Scartozzi also said she wished the video presentations showed when the accidents occurred. She wondered if it were the drivers on Burville causing the accidents.
“If people can’t follow the rules of the road, then how are they going to follow the roundabouts, which are going to the wayside in Europe?” she said. “Maybe a stoplight could be the answer, but I doubt it. People are always in a hurry and on their cellphones. Rules aren’t made for everyone nowadays.
“Funny how they have an automatic right turn at 394 going north, but didn’t put in a left hand turn signal or lane so we could turn going south. It seems Will County is bending over backward for the residents of Indiana and ignoring the residents of Will County.
“We are the people paying for all of this, and Indiana residents come out smelling like a rose and don’t have to pay our taxes.”
She also suggested reducing the speed limit to 30 mph, as it is in Indiana, instead of 45 mph.
A final complaint, Scartozzi said, is that “They are going to take 3 or 4 homes to make the roundabout or the dog bone, which isn’t fair to the homeowners.”
Kupkowski, meanwhile, emphasized that no decision has been made and that public comments are encouraged.
“While we heard suggestions from many of the people present, most of them need to be further investigated to determine if they are appropriate for this intersection,” she said.
“The verbal comments we heard last night ran the gamut from concerns of residents about access and speed to concerns about flooding. I can’t get into more specifics, as we have not compiled the written comments received last evening.
“Finally, I just wanted to remind everyone that we are accepting comments until May 15th, and all the exhibits from last evening’s meeting are on the project website www.burvilleatexchangestudy.com.”
She also said the project team “will go through everything here” and “will come back, probably late fall, for another public meeting, and we’ll tell everyone, ‘This is what we’ve found.’”
Timeline for the project includes plan preparation and land acquisition from mid-2024 to late 2025, with construction in early 2026 to late 2027.

Karen Haave is a freelance reporter.

County and Crete Township officials are proposing one of two different roundabout styles to help alleviate the traffic problems at Exchange Street and Burville Road.

 

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