Stop signs and short cuts: Keeping the neighborhood safe
By Bob Okon firstname.lastname@example.org June 8, 2012 9:54AM
Jay McGowan walks with his dog Myron on Reed Street at Oneida in Joliet, IL on Friday June 8, 2012. He took a petition around the neighborhood and got 90 signatures for more stop signs because of traffic problems on the residential street that is increasingly being used as a shortcut. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 12, 2012 6:04AM
JOLIET — Jay McGowan was walking his dog Myles last summer when one car swerved off of Reed Street to miss another and rode over the curb onto the grass.
“I’m on the sidewalk, and the car stopped two feet away from me and my dog,” McGowan said.
It was one of what McGowan and others on Reed Street say are many “near misses” among drivers swerving and skidding to avoid each other on a residential street that has become a short cut off of Jefferson Street.
Lots of streets in his neighborhood — the Cathedral Area — seem to have become shortcuts for drivers trying to avoid lights or heavier traffic on Jefferson Street and other bordering roads with traffic signals, McGowan said.
“They zigzag through this neighborhood like crazy,” McGowan said. “Reed is the shortcut instead of using Raynor. It’s also a shortcut instead of using Midland.”
The city is putting up new stop signs Friday at Reed Street and Western Avenue creating an all-way stop at the intersection.
McGowan and others would like to see another stop sign at Oneida Street. McGowan collected more than 80 signatures on two separate petitions seeking Reed Street stop signs at both Oneida and Western.
City officials said they want to do a traffic study before deciding whether to put a stop sign at Oneida.
It was Oneida Street where McGowan and his dog were nearly hit.
‘Off of work...taking chances’
Paul Lisner lives on the corner and said near-misses seem to happen monthly, and there are occasional collisions, too.
One of the big problems, Lisner said, is that cars speed up to get to the light on Jefferson Street a few blocks down the road, hoping to beat it before it turns red.
“If you had a stop sign at Oneida, at least they’d have two stops instead of barrelling down Reed Street,” Lisner said.
The other problem, McGowan said, is that cars coming off of Oneida don’t have time to see the oncoming traffic before they pull out. The problems mount, he said, during the afternoon rush hour.
“People are getting off of work. They’re trying to get home. They’re taking chances,” McGowan said.
Nearly a dozen cars sometimes line up on Western Avenue trying to get onto Reed Street in late afternoon, he said. The stop sign that goes up this week should make those turns safer.
One hindrance to a stop sign at Oneida Street, however, is that it would create stops at three consecutive intersections. But, McGowan noted, the city put stop signs at three consecutive intersections on another stretch of Reed Street north of Glenwood, and it deterred shortcut traffic. At least, it deterred him from going that way.
“I don’t use it anymore,” he said, “and I used to,”