Options proposed to reduce speed
It was nothing short of a public debate as the Edwardsville Public Services Committee met with several St. Louis Street homeowners to discuss traffic calming at Tuesday’s meeting.
Vice President of the Historic St. Louis Street Association Ted Gayford presented concerns and solutions regarding the ongoing speeding problem.
“We think lowering the speed enhances the livability of St. Louis Street and frankly would also continue having St. Louis Street as a core neighborhood in Edwardsville,” Gayford said.
In 2018, funding will be available and changes will be made to the street. President of the Historic St. Louis Street Association Gordon Broom said the time to address a course of action is now.
“There’s going to be work done on the street in the next two years. So, we want to get ahead of the curve,” Broom said.
Currently, over 70 families reside on St. Louis Street. The street itself is an Edwardsville landmark, and has been recognized by the Historic Preservation Committee. Despite the speed zone being 25 mph, according to Gayford, it is almost double that with daily traffic passing through, which poses a danger to the community.
“We’ve invested in our street. It is a historic landmark and we do not want that diminished. I wish I could flag people down and explain to them that driving 45 versus 25 in three quarters of a mile does not save them that much time. It is negligible, and these people may have seen me yelling at cars but that does not work. And we are trying to find what does,” Gayford said.
The solutions proposed at the meeting ranged from adding a stop sign or a crosswalk, investing in a radar feedback sign, striping a double yellow center line, or also adding a speed bump or bike path. Alderman Barb Stamer said a bike path may be ideal.
“They (speed bumps) are not great at slowing down traffic and you can really tell when somebody hits them and doesn’t slow down. And the bike trail is an interesting thing because I will tell you in the ‘70s, there was a marked bike path on St. Louis Street, and the residents asked that it be removed. So, it’s interesting now that that was a suggestion,” Stamer said. “When there was a bike trail on St. Louis Street, it was heavily used by bikers. It was actually on the right side as you go out of town. I remember that because I used to use that bike trail all the time.”
Broom agreed the bike path could serve as a beneficial addition to the street, but said the Association has yet to converse with the residents.
“I think that would be controversial, but with traffic the way it is, if it slowed people down, I think it might be a good reaction to it. But, we don’t know. We haven’t surveyed our residents but we have talked among ourselves and that’s one of the suggestions. As far as the speed bump is concerned, one possibility is they have these temporary speed bumps. They are rubberized and you can put them out. I think it’d be a good experiment to see whether it would aggravate the drivers and slow them down or if it would be a problem for our residents,” Broom said.
If the speed bump were to be added, the Association proposed it be placed at the end of St. Louis Street, in the middle of the 1300 Block. Gayford said the speed bump would have an estimate of 15 to 22 percent reduction in traffic speed. Although some members of the Committee were in agreement, City Engineer Ryan Zwijack said if they were to use federal funds, the speed bump wouldn’t be a possibility.
“Since St. Louis Street is an arterial road, by IDOT standards, there can be no kind of bumps, speed humps, speed tables, placed on an arterial route,” Zwijack said.
As the debate progressed, crosswalks also became a point of discussion. Director of Public Works Eric Williams said with the two crosswalks already placed, the addition of another could result in the abolishment of the two currently there.
“Once we get into it going through IDOT and the Federal Highway Administration, the first step we are going to have to do is a project report. They are going to be very critical of the crosswalk of West Union and also at Charles, since they are not at a controlled intersection. More than likely, they are going to have us remove those,” Williams said. “It’s not through the whole entire process yet, but it’s what they are going to do with this classification of roadway and not having it at a controlled intersection.”
The Association also suggested adding a center island at the west end of St. Louis Street between the bridge and the east end of Woodlawn cemetery. Stamer said this would be visually appealing and benefit the street as a whole.
“I think, especially on that corner, it forces them to slow down more, but it also creates this really attractive visual for the entrance to St. Louis Street from that end,” Stamer said.
Zwijack said if a center island were to be placed, the street would have to accommodate the space.
“If a car breaks down at the location of the island, we’ll still have to have room for travel on the same side of the island. So the road width will have to increase,” Zwijack said.
The committee said if they received permission to construct a center island, they would then look into the costs associated with the project. Broom said the best solution, according to the Association, would be the radar feedback sign.
“One thing we can do is this radar sign. We’ve been talking about this for a couple of years. We can put a permanent sign down by Woodlawn Gardens and maybe we can find another spot. When the police have their sign up, it really works,” Broom said.
Gayford said the total cost for the radar speed sign would be $2,695; however, the Association has agreed to pay half of the cost if the city could meet them halfway. Williams said if the Association wanted to proceed with the sign, they would need to procure a grant.
“There’s a form to fill out to register as the neighborhood association. Then they are going to open up the grant applications Aug. 1 – Sept. 2, I believe. So when those come back in, there’s a committee that will review those and make the grant awards,” Williams said.
Stamer said it may seem like a good idea, but it would inevitably fall into the hands of Public Works.
“No matter what happens, whatever committee, Public Safety might say it’s a great idea, and they may say that because it’s going to come out of Public Works budget,” Stamer said.
Double yellow center stripes were also propositioned. Similar to Esic Drive, Gayford said the stripes would offer only a one percent reduction in speed. Williams said if the stripe were added, changes would need to be made for parking.
“When we go to the double yellow, where there’s parking lanes at, like you mentioned Esic, we had to kind of shift everybody back and forth a little bit. Once you put the double yellow down, they technically can’t cross that double yellow around a parked car. So we have to shift lanes and it may impact some of the parking now,” Williams said.
As the debate came to a close, it was decided by the Association, the residents of St. Louis Street, and the Committee the top three options would be the radar sign, the island, and the double line. Nothing has yet been finalized.
Courtesy: CODY KING