Lincolnshire seeks intersection upgrades near border with Vernon Hills
Bridging the gap
Updated: November 26, 2012 2:18AM
LINCOLNSHIRE — For pedestrians, the shortest walk between two prominent shopping centers along the Lincolnshire and Vernon Hills border also is the most risky.
The intersection where U.S. Route 45 converges with Milwaukee Avenue and becomes Olde Half Day Road across the street is booming, with the Vernon Hills Town Center attracting numerous new businesses on the northwest corner and Lincolnshire’s Village Green hoping to reload with the opening of a new steak house on the northeast corner.
The Town Center is in the village of Vernon Hills, while the other three corners of the intersection are within Lincolnshire. With the busy Town Center across the street, Lincolnshire officials are hoping to draw some of that foot traffic to their community’s rebuilding Village Green.
Doing so would require a striped crosswalk, a push-button walk signal, and cooperation from other agencies.
“We approached Vernon Hills about this, and they’re not interested,” said Jennifer Hughes, Lincolnshire’ public works director.
Her counterpart in Vernon Hills, public works director David Brown, clarified that his village was interested, but not at this time.
“They’re on a different budget cycle than us, so it was a mid-budget-year request,” Brown explained. “It’s not ‘we’re not interested,’ it’s maybe more ‘not yet.’”
Hughes and the Lincolnshire Village Board discussed the intersection Monday during the trustees’ regular meeting.
While the two shopping centers are only separated by Milwaukee Avenue’s five traffic lanes, to most pedestrians that is an unbridgeable chasm. Not only is there no walking signal on the intersection’s north side, but that is the only of the four without a striped crosswalk.
“It’s really a bad pedestrian corner,” Lincolnshire Trustee Karen Feldman said.
And improving it will come with an estimated $15,000 price tag, Hughes reported. That would cover wiring the north side of the intersection for a button-operated walk signal. Currently, a signal only exists on the east side, serving pedestrians going north or south between Village Green and the Walgreen’s on the southeast corner. The price tag also included upgrading the aluminum poles with a more “ornate” appearance, Brown added Tuesday.
While Lincolnshire’s budget begins every Jan. 1, Vernon Hills’ fiscal year begins May 1, so Brown said his Village Board may be interested in working with Lincolnshire this spring, when their budget talks begin.
“Our board isn’t receptive to changing budgets, because then we have to cut somewhere else,” he said. “We don’t think it’s a bad idea, it’s just the budget cycles.
Lincolnshire Trustee Liz Brandt noted that a signalized crosswalk also will benefit Vernon Hills. Teens on the Lincolnshire side are already braving the trek across Milwaukee Avenue to get to the Town Center.
“There’s a lot of Lincolnshire residents, particularly kids, going over there,” she said.
The Illinois Department of Transportation oversees that intersection, but Jim Stoner, IDOT’s pedestrian safety engineer, said putting down stripes for crosswalks and determining where to put walk signals is a task reserved for village staffs.
“Something could have fallen through that got missed,” he said, or it could be that the agency never received a permit request from Lincolnshire to stripe a fourth crosswalk.
There are other problems at that intersection, though. The entire southwest corner has no sidewalks.
The EZ Food Pantry, owned by Prem Mehta, is located on that corner. Mehta said that despite having no sidewalks, he still gets regular walk-ins from nearby Stevenson High School.
“There needs to be a sidewalk,” he said, “but not at the cost of the parking lot.”
Stoner said IDOT would examine any crosswalk or signal request once it receives one, but added that when his agency has to work with a pair of village governments at an intersection they border, it can lead to a lot of communication issues.
“It isn’t easy when you’re working with two different communities,” he said.