As downtown Oswego continues to develop with more shopping, dining, residences, and events, the Village remains committed to improving pedestrian safety, particularly at common crossings along Washington Street (U.S. Route 34).
Currently, flashing beacons and handheld flags alert vehicles to pedestrians in the crosswalk at Main and Washington Streets, and Oswego police patrol the stretch of Washington Street through downtown Oswego to deter speeders. However, these safety measures fall short of the Village's goal of a pedestrian-friendly downtown that encourages residents to gather, shop and dine -- a goal that will likely best be met by traffic signals at key intersections.
In June 2019, the Village Board approved hiring an engineering firm to study the costs and implications for pedestrian and vehicle traffic that would be incurred by adding a stop light at the intersection of Washington and Main Street. Because Washington Street is a U.S. highway, any improvements to the road must be studied and then ultimately approved by the Illinois Department of Transportation. In recent months, IDOT has agreed to work with the Village on these improvements, and the Village is taking proactive steps to make additional traffic signals a reality in downtown.
Pedestrian safety improvements timeline
- In 1997, the Village asked IDOT for a traffic signal at Main and if not, flashing beacons. The beacons were subsequently installed. IDOT also lowered the speed limit to 20 m.p.h. and added “no left turn” signs.
- In 1999, IDOT authorized the Village to install a traffic signal at Main Street, and IDOT planned to pay nearly all of the costs to do so. At the time, downtown business owners petitioned in objection because the proposal would have required the elimination of 19 on-street parking spaces. Based on the objections, the Village declined to further pursue the signal.
- In 2003-04, the Village again discussed a traffic signal at Main Street with IDOT. IDOT performed traffic counts and determined the signal did not meet their warrants, that is, that not enough pedestrians and vehicles were counted crossing the intersection to warrant a light at the time.
- In 2007-08, the Village passed Resolution 08-R-10A supporting a traffic signal at the intersection of Harrison and Washington Streets.
- In 2017, the Village asked IDOT to allow the installation of traffic signals at the intersections of Main and Washington, and at Harrison and Washington, as part of the Block 11 and Reserve at Hudson Crossing developments. IDOT replied that the intersection still did not meet warrants, however, handheld pedestrian crossing flags were installed at Main and Washington.
- In October 2018, a woman was struck and killed on Washington Street, after crossing the street outside of a marked crosswalk.
- In November 2018, Village officials met with IDOT and asked them to reconsider allowing traffic signals at both the Main and Harrison intersections in light of the previous month's fatality and upcoming development projects. IDOT agreed to perform updated traffic counts.
- In January 2019, Village officials met with IDOT again. The state agency explained that the warrants still were not met, however, given the circumstances the agency is open to allowing the signals under certain circumstances. In order to get approval for traffic signals, the Village must first hire an engineer to draft a preliminary design of the two intersections and to perform a traffic study that would estimate traffic increases from the two main developments. The data and design should be presented publicly, and the Village should take formal public comment on the designs, making it clear to the public that vehicular traffic will be slowed on Route 34 with the additional traffic signals. If the traffic study projects that warrants will be met, and if the public is supportive, IDOT says they will allow the traffic signals. The Village has actively pursued this course of action, included funding for the preliminary engineering in the FY2020 budget, and approved hiring a consultant for the study.