SPRING VALLEY — The Spring Valley City Council has been working on a plan for the Safe Routes to School Program, which the city became a part of about three years ago.
The program is funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and works to build safe and easy routes to better promote students walking and biking to and from elementary schools.
Mayor Walt Marini has been working with city engineer Larry Good in the planning of the routes and incorporating studies completed on traffic patterns throughout the city that help determine the safest route.
Marini said the city’s current plan is estimated to cost around $500,000, which will be covered entirely by IDOT. The cost includes the price of sidewalks and a traffic signal light, which will be installed at a necessary location. While the planning is an ongoing process, the routes will not be installed until two years down the road, according to Marini.
In October, the council held a public hearing to discuss plans to date. It was discussed that a traffic light should be installed at the intersection of Strong Street and U.S. Route 6. The light would also serve as a school crossing with a crossing guard for the elementary school students.
On Monday, Marini said studies completed by IDOT showed building a sidewalk on the west side of Strong Street for students to walk on would be the safest route because of the limited amount of driveways near the intersection. He confirmed the only conflict would be the nearby entrance into the soon-to-be Sullivan’s Foods grocery store and the Casey’s General Store.
The Spring Valley Elementary School Board has voiced concerns about this crossing.
On Monday, SVE Superintendent Jim Hermes explained the board believes there is too much traffic at the intersection of Strong Street and U.S. Route 6, and would like to see the route be changed to either the intersection of U.S. Route 6 and Taylor Street or U.S. Route 6 and Richards Street. The intersections are just a block north of the Strong Street intersection.
The school board agreed the intersection at Strong Street and U.S. Route 6 did need a traffic light because of heavy traffic coming around the corner near the intersection.
However, Marini explained the city’s plan for safe routes showed the intersections near the Taylor Street and Richards Street crossings showed there are several driveways and crossroads the students would have the walk near, which may have a larger impact on the safe route.
Marini said he plans to sit down with the city engineer and representatives from IDOT on Dec. 12 to talk more about the safe routes plan and see what IDOT representatives say about the studies on the intersections near U.S. Route 6.
Hermes said the school board hopes they will complete another traffic study at the sight before making a decision. The students have always used Richards Street to cross over U.S. Route 6, and the school hopes to be able to continue using that route.
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