Traffic Commission recommends flashing pedestrian signs, increased lighting on Chestnut near QU

Posted: Feb. 11, 2013 10:57 pm Updated: Feb. 25, 2013 11:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

Quincy University has agreed to pay for two flashing pedestrian crossing signs on Chestnut between 18th and 20th Street to warn motorists of pedestrians after a student was hit by a car crossing the street last month.

The signs would be similar to ones recently installed by city crews near 10th and Broadway, which Blessing Hospital bought for $3,200.

The Quincy Traffic Commission recommended Monday night that the signs be installed, as well as improving lighting in the area. City Engineer Jeff Steinkamp said the City Council will be asked to concur with the recommendations at next week's meeting.

Shannon L. Peters, a 19-year-old QU student from Elk Grove Village, is in stable condition at Holy Family Medical Center, a long-term care facility in Des Plaines.

Peters was struck at about 6:30 p.m. Jan. 7 by a westbound vehicle while attempting to cross Chestnut about 350 feet east of the intersection at 18th Street.

The commission was asked a week later to conduct a speed study in the area and also consider making 20th and Chestnut a four-way stop following the accident.

Steinkamp told the commission that the speed study showed that most of the 6,063 cars that passed through the intersection on Chestnut followed the 30 mph speed limit. Eighty-five percent of vehicles surveyed were driving 31 mph or slower. The average speed was 26 miles per hour.

The speeds were taken by a Speed Spy radar box, which can be attached to a utility pole to monitor speeds. This allows an accurate picture of speeds as opposed to a police officer monitoring speed.

A pedestrian count completed during a 12-hour period on a school day revealed that of the 449 pedestrian crossings of Chestnut, less than 3 percent crossed at the crosswalks at 18th or 20th streets.

The commission also recommended that the city look at installing flashing pedestrian signs along 18th Street between Elm and Lind, where many students also cross from a parking lot on the west side of 18th Street.

"The numbers show that there are more people crossing there during the day than there are on Chestnut," Steinkamp said.

The solar-powered signs cost about $1,700 each. A 30-mph speed sign would also be posted to the signs.

QU President Robert Gervasi said the university would buy the signs as opposed to a city suggestion to have the students raise money for them.

"We think it's a real sign of partnership between the university and the city," he said.

To increase the lighting in the area, Steinkamp suggested that the bulbs in streetlights at both intersections and in front of the dorms be increased to 250-watt bulbs instead of the current 100-watt bulbs.

"I think it would help quite a bit, but we've got to be concerned that we don't over-light it and we protect the residents on the north side with perhaps some shielding," he said. "We've done that before in residential areas."

Both 2nd Ward aldermen agreed with the recommendations. Alderman Dave Bauer, D-2, suggested if additional lights don't work, then the city should consider trimming some trees along Chestnut.

The commission also recommended that north-south pedestrian crosswalks be added at 20th and Chestnut. Both north-south and east-west crosswalks are installed at 18th and Chestnut.

Steinkamp also recommended that the university consider a campus pedestrian safety campaign to educate students on proper safety precautions and awareness. University officials said QU sophomore Julianne Touhy has already taken the lead on such a program.

"This whole event will consist of pedestrian safety, but it's also going to be a week-long (program) about different things that QU students should be aware of," she said.