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Local Editorials

Our view: Oswego making strides to improve downtown pedestrian safety

Main and Washington Street (Route 34) in downtown Oswego.
Main and Washington Street (Route 34) in downtown Oswego.

It’s been a quarter of a century since the Illinois Department of Transportation widened Route 34 (Washington Street) through downtown Oswego as a four-lane highway, and it will take some additional time for the agency and village to make all of the improvements to make crossing the busy highway safer for pedestrians.

Still, we’re impressed with the village’s efforts in recent months to expedite the improvements by hiring engineering firms to prepare short- and long-term plans, respectively, for the improvements as required by IDOT, which owns, maintains and has the final say over any improvements made along the highway.

As we reported Aug. 18, the Village Board approved hiring an engineering firm at cost of $18,800 to design a series of short-term safety improvements along the highway that are intended to highlight the existing 20 mph speed limit in the downtown area and enhance the visibility of existing pedestrian crosswalks.

The improvements are expected to include upgrades to existing traffic signs and the installation of new traffic signs with radar feedback message boards that flash “Your Speed Is” to passing motorists, upgrades to existing and installation of new pavement markings and adjusting the phases on the traffic signals at the intersection of Route 34 and Route 31.

The majority of the short-term improvements are expected to be completed in the fall, said Jennifer Hughes, the village’s director of public works and engineer.

The second study will cost the village $85,500 and involve design work for the installation of traffic signals and other improvements at the intersection of Route 34 and Main and Harrison streets, adjoining the $69 million Shodeen Inc. apartment and commercial building under construction on the north side of Washington Street.

In our view, traffic signals have been needed at Main Street since, well, IDOT widened Route 34 to four lanes in 1995. The signals also will be a welcome safety measure at Harrison Street when the Shodeen building is occupied by tenants, retail stores and restaurants.

We also believe the short-term improvements, especially the addition of the “Your Speed is” signs, will be welcome additions to the highway corridor and will, at a minimum, make more motorists aware of the existing 20 mph speed limit and may cause some of them to actually slow down.

Like many village and Kendall County-area residents who visit the downtown area, we wish the traffic signals already were up at the dangerous Main Street intersection. But we are heartened the village is moving forward to jump through all of IDOT’s hoops to have the signals installed if and when the agency finally gives its approval.

- Record Newspapers Editorial Board

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