A long look at improving Liberty Street
By Mike Danahey firstname.lastname@example.org January 27, 2013 10:36PM
Updated: March 1, 2013 6:50AM
ELGIN — The city says its hand are tied when it comes to making more changes along busy east side thoroughfare Liberty Street.
Addressing neighborhood concerns about traffic on Liberty, city management analyst Aaron Cosentino and Police Cmmndr. Glenn Theriault presented a 48-page, half-hour long Powerpoint update at last week’s city council meeting.
Liberty from Congdon Avenue to Bluff City Boulevard is also Route 25, meaning it is a state route. It’s the same situation on the near west side with State Street, which is Route 31.
As such, there doesn’t seem to be much else the city can do beyond what it has, as the road is maintained by the state and subject to its rules and regulations, officials said.
“We’re are the end of what we can do, and the state is not going to bend,” Councilman Robert Gilliam said.
Last year, the city made suggestions about rerouting traffic to the Illinois Department of Transportation, all of which the department rejected.
One suggestion would have had traffic passing Larsen Middle School on Dundee Avenue, “effectively moving the concerns from one group of neighbors to another,” IDOT told the city.
Last August, after a trial period, the city made permanent load limit signs on Grand Avenue, Franklin Boulevard, Addison Street, Park Street, Lillie Street, Forest Avenue from Liberty Street to Grand Boulevard and Linden Avenue from Liberty to Bode Road. Other than for pick-up/delivery, food, fuel, rest and repair, trucks heavier than 8,000 pounds are not permitted to travel on these streets.
For decades, trucks heading west on Chicago Street have been using the streets east of Liberty Street, presumably to avoid the hilled intersection of Chicago and Liberty.
In August, the city obtained a permit from IDOT and put up a crosswalk at Liberty Street and Franklin Boulevard.
The city also conducted a traffic study last year along Liberty and found the average speed on the street to be 28.5 miles per hour, with 90 percent of drivers going less than 35 mph. The posted speed limit is 30 mph.Cosentino said Elgin police did beef up patrols focused on speeding along the street and used radar data collection signs to help keep speeds lower.
Another speed study is underway by IDOT, according to the presentation. While some of those who live along Liberty have complained about the volume of truck traffic, a 2011 IDOT study found that truck traffic along Route 25 is only 850 vehicles a day, compared to an average of 1,655 along Route 31.
Cosentino said IDOT might consider a no passing zone along Liberty Street from Slade Avenue to Bluff City Boulevard.
While staff is recommending an ordinance prohibiting excessive air braking, during two visits in December staff spotted 32 trucks equipped with air brakes but heard no such braking.
Another move under consideration is adding buffered bike lanes that would also serve as a way to calm traffic along Liberty.