SEATONVILLE — Seatonville Village President Bill Heitz has had enough.
“This is not an interstate,” he said. “This is not a Route 6.”
Although Route 6 does run through the small community, the road Heitz was referring to was the Peru-Princeton Road, which runs on a diagonal to Spring Valley and LaSalle County.
For years, drivers ignored the posted speed limit signs and flew over the short section of road. Heitz recently borrowed a speed gun from the sheriff’s department and discovered the average speed was 55 miles per hour.
Until recently, Heitz thought there wasn’t anything he could do about the speeders.
“I thought it was a county road,” he said.
Peru-Princeton Road is older than Seatonville, and at one time was a county road running between Hollowayville and Ottville. Heitz said that when the coal mine was opened nearby, the town of Seatonville was created along the road.
Two years ago Heitz was still on the village board. The county was doing some asphalt work on the road, but instead of starting in town, the work began south of the village and headed to Spring Valley.
“I said, ‘What about Seatonville?’” Heitz said. “And he said, ‘That’s not a county road.’”
So Heitz attended a county highway department meeting with Bureau County Highway Engineer John Gross and Transportation Committee Chairman Steve Sondgeroth.
“They couldn’t show me when that road was supposedly turned over to the village,” Heitz said.
Heitz had the village attorney research the issue, and there was still no proof who owned the road.
“So finally I said, well, if the county says it’s mine, and I can’t get an answer out of the state’s attorney or anybody else, OK, it’s mine, and I’m going to do something with it,” Heitz said. “I’m going to treat it like it’s mine.”
Heitz and the village began their efforts last fall.
“I threw in a couple of what I call traffic calming devices,” he said. “They’re nothing more than just an asphalt hump, but they do work.”
The asphalt humps had to be removed before winter for the snow plows, but now they’re back.
Heitz said his village board met last month and unanimously decided to bring back the asphalt humps, plus at least two stop signs.
“We have a very dangerous intersection,” he said. “There’s a street that comes in on a 30 degree angle to three other streets.”
Heitz said the asphalt humps and the stop signs, which were installed earlier this week, are working well.
“It’s doing a great job protecting everybody,” he said. “We feel now that we have control.”
For all of the close calls the road has caused, Heitz said it doesn’t bring much benefit to the village, other than customers for the Seatonville Greenhouse and the bar in town.
“Outside of that, people are just using the town to go through, and we’re not getting anything out of it,” he said.
While the changes have had an impact, there’s still room for improvement. Heitz said on Tuesday he saw two drivers talking on cell phones go through both stop signs at about 55 miles per hour.
If things don’t improve, the board is considering putting up even more stop signs on the crossroads, or even posting the road for weight limits to stop the trucks altogether.
Heitz said he had notified Bureau County Sheriff John Thompson about the village’s plan for the road.
“He said, ‘I’ll back you 100 percent. Whatever you’re doing to slow them down, we’ll back you,’” Heitz said.
Heitz said Thompson offered to post a deputy in town to enforce the speed limit and stop signs.
“Just to pinch them down a little tighter,” Heitz said. “Get a little respect for what we have.”
Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.