An area of Cannonball Trail in Yorkville that city officials are eyeing for safety improvements was the site of three crashes in one day Monday, Jan. 7.
Yorkville police reported that a vehicle was traveling north on Cannonball Trail when it lost control and struck a utility pole at 9:26 a.m. on Monday. Police arrested Jose A. Mendez, 27, of the 1100 block of Howell Place, Aurora, following the crash as he had a revoked driver’s license.
Yorkville police also responded to the same area at 3:07 p.m. Monday after a vehicle lost its front passenger tire and the Buick sedan drove into a ditch and struck a utility pole, police said. The police did not list any tickets for that driver.
According to Yorkville police dispatch records, police responded to the 3200 block of Cannonball Trail at 5:19 p.m. Monday for a property damage accident.
Aldermen have been discussing adding improvements to the curve along Cannonball at the urging of Alderman Joel Frieders, who lives in the nearby Whispering Meadows subdivision. The City Council’s Public Works Committee discussed the issue at its December meeting.
According to an email from Assistant City Administrator Erin Willrett sent to aldermen Tuesday, city staff has taken some action regarding the road.
“At this time, Kendall County has put the speed sign they own back up on northbound Cannonball Trail,” she wrote. “City staff is working on repairing the city-owned speed sign. If it is in working condition, it will be placed near the New Life Assembly Church. Then there will be a speed sign [for] both northbound and southbound traffic near the curve. Staff also measured the reduced speed limit signs signalizing the curve and they are within the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices standard of the start of the curve. Staff is in discussion with the Illinois Department of Transportation to see if they would entertain putting up a message board alerting motorists that Cannonball Trail should be used for local traffic only or any other option that they see fit to reduce cut-through traffic during the Route 34 construction. Staff will keep you updated on any progress with IDOT as well as the speed signs.”
Willrett also said Frieders had asked about reducing the speed limit on Cannonball Trail. She said Engineering Enterprises Inc., the city’s engineering consultants, gave the following response:
“The city cannot lower the speed limit without additional study. To do this, a speed study would need to be conducted. Per the Policy on Establishing and Posting Speed Limits on the State Highway System, published by IDOT March 2011, alteration of a speed limit is based on ‘an engineering study that has been performed in accordance with traffic engineering practiced. The engineering study shall include an analysis of the current speed distribution of free-flowing vehicles.’ Also to note from the Policy is that ‘normally, isolated curves and turns, areas of restricted sight distances, no-passing zones, etc., should not be considered as the basis for alteration of speed limits.’ In addition, an advisory speed limit cannot be more than 10 mph less than the adjacent speed limits. Therefore going from 45 to 25 mph would not be allowed. If the speed study results show that a speed limit reduction is in order, then the city would have to pass an ordinance to that effect. Steps needed for a speed study include: collection of 24 hours of speed data, test runs (5) to approximate the average speed of drivers, documentation of existing condition of roadway, and determination of the 85th percentile speed.”
Only a portion of the road is under the city’s jurisdiction; most of the road is overseen by Bristol Township. There is a 45-mph speed limit on the road, with a recommended 25-mph limit on the curve.
According to a memo from Colleen Jaltuch of EEI to city aldermen there have been seven reported crashes along and near the curve over the past five years.
“Over the past five years, there have been seven reported crashes to the city along the curve and at the intersection of Cannonball Trail and Alice Avenue,” Jaltuch wrote. “Of these, one involved an injury and six involved property damage only. The injury crash occurred on Alice Avenue. Of the six property-damage crashes, four of these were due to roadway departure. One of these four roadway departures [was] due to wet pavement and one was due to icy pavement. Anecdotally, there probably have been more undocumented roadway departure issues.”
Jaltuch wrote that there were a few improvements that could be made without a major cost, including the installation of rumble strips along the shoulder or added signage.
Frieders said at the Dec. 18 committee meeting that he reached out to his neighbors, who he said recommended rumble strips or another sign for a recommended 25 mph speed limit on the curve. He said there should also be more gravel filled in along the shoulder.
“I think the shoulder, the rumble [strips] and then either adding or relocating some of those [speed limit] signs I think would kind of take care of the problem in the interim,” he said.
Public Works Director Eric Dhuse said filling in the shoulder is something city staff can perform.
City Administrator Bart Olson said the city is looking to purchase a number of speed limit detector signs for about $20,000.
At Tuesday evening’s City Council meeting, aldermen discussed the measures that could be done in the short term to help mitigate accidents along the curve. Chris Funkhouser suggested installing rumble strips right away.
“Looking at the rumble strips, the transverse rumble strips across the actual width of the road, letting (motorists) know, hey, there’s a curve, slow down,” Funkhouser said. “These are very simple things but they will go a long way until we can get to an ultimate fix for this issue.”
Ken Koch suggested that the police park old squad cars at the church as a way to warn people to slow down.
Carlo Colosimo said he is in favor of recommendations “as long as they don’t cost too much money.” But he stressed that it’s up to drivers to go the speed limit and slow down on the curve.
“Cannonball has been there for decades,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s the responsibility of the driver to follow the law. If you’re speeding, you’re going to be a threat no matter what road you’re on – and I understand that with this curve it’s more dangerous. But government can only go so far; government doesn’t have all the answers for people. At the end of the day, you’ve got to follow the speed limit. If you take that curve at 25 miles per hour, which is the posted speed limit, you’re not gonna fly off the road. Plain and simple, that’s what it comes down to, is personal responsibility. Follow the law, follow the speed limit, and we won’t have those accidents.”
Frieders said the accidents have involved motorists of varying ages and skill levels.
“It’s all over the map as far as ages and driving skills are concerned,” he said.
Frieders said he would like to see more signage on the road and something that is “eye opening,” although he doesn’t want there to be “sign pollution.”
Regarding the rumble strips, Dhuse said he would have to call an asphalt company and inquire about the city’s options at this time of year.
The discussion will continue at the committee’s meeting scheduled for Jan. 15. The committee will consider a speed study of Cannonball Trail and Kennedy Road at that meeting, according to Willrett.