This road and right of way widening project is not necessary. We’ve shown that per the county’s own admission, this project does not serve a public purpose. Here we will demonstrate that the limited benefit it does provide, and the technical and engineering challenges presented can be resolved within the existing right of way, or with alternates – therefore that taking of land, is not necessary.
Engineering and Technical Needs
The County’s engineering study specific to the Parker-Hadley Corridor, www.parkerhadleystudy.com, documents the study performed specific to this project. The technical and engineering challenges presented there can be resolved within the existing right of way, or with alternates – therefore that taking of land, is not necessary.
Resurface Road, Pavement width
We have no opposition to resurfacing the road, or reconstructing the subsurface gravel and structural layers. Which can be done within the existing right of way.
The county claims the industry standards for a road of this age is a full reconstruction. Which involves the right of way and widening. That may be the “industry standard” but it is not a requirement. The “industry standard for a traffic analysis” involves a multi-day study, yet per resident testimony and their published report, traffic data was only collected on a single day. Specifically, on a day when nearby adjacent roads were under construction so traffic was likely higher due to drivers re-routing down this corridor to avoid the construction. In other words, the county has demonstrated that they are comfortable working outside the industry standards on this project.
Further, just because something may be “industry standard,” that does not make it a requirement. Exceptions and variances exist specifically to handle non-standard conditions. The Will county Long term transportation plan specifically acknowledges this, that “the presence of historic and cultural resources, and environmental impacts that can make it difficult, if not impossible, to expand roadway capacity.”
This corridor is a rural heritage corridor, of outstanding contributing value. The loss of the heritage is absolutely a qualifying reason to reconstruct per industry where possible, within the existing substandard right of way.
Comparing the 2023 Traffic Analysis with the equivalent data pulled from a Homer Glen Traffic Study in 2006, you can see that traffic in 2023 is lower than it was in 2006, and projected traffic all the way out to 2050 is comparable to 2006.
Per the county report, in 6 years of study, there hasn’t been a single death or incapacitating injury.
The study lists facts in such a way as to paint this corridor as some dangerous road. It is akin to stating the true fact that you are 4X more likely to die taking a selfie than from a shark attack. In both cases, the odds are so near zero it isn’t worth noting. And it certainly isn’t worth spending millions of dollars and destroying a pristine rural heritage corridor over.
Sure we could eliminate all national parks and no one would ever get mauled by a bear again. But as humans, we’re not only willing to risk safety for beauty. We seek it out.
Crash Analysis: Pavement Width
The US Depart of Transportation Federal Highway Administration specifically lists Mitigation strategies for reducing the likelyhood of crashes. Table 5 actually calls for a reduction in speed for narrower roads with narrow shoulders. Per the Parker Hadley study, this corridor falls into the 9-10’ lane width, with 0-2’ shoulder category. Therefore the Highway Capacity Manual states this causes a 6.4mph speed reduction as appropriate and would keep all work within the existing right of way.
Which means, if you make the lanes and shoulders wider, cars will go FASTER, not slower. Based on that federal data, the subpar lane width may be the very thing keeping accident rates as low as they are, as widening the roads will increase speed, and therefore collision severity.
Crash Analysis: Alternatives within the right of way
Alternatives to reduce speed at critical areas exist, and are less expensive, and can work within the existing right of way without taking land. Per the Institute of Transport Engineers :
- Road Diet – demonstrates that REDUCING width rather than raising it actually improves speeds and improves pedestrian safety and costs $60,000.
- Speed Humps – reduces speed to 25-35mph, minimal impact on emergency access. And actually diverts traffic, reducing overall trips down the county corridor. This corridor Literally starts AND ends at US route 6. Reduces crash rates by 13% and costs only $2-4,000 every 500 feet.
- Speed Cushions – reduces speeds by 20-25 percent, reduces crash rates by 13%, has nearly zero impact on emergency response and reduces overall trips.
- Raised intersections – works up to 35mph and costs only $15-60,000. so have you considered reducing speed at intersections to 35mph and installing these? Reduces movement speeds, reduces midblock speeds.
- Rumble strips at center or shoulder. Or across the entire highway. Chokers, neckdowns, progressive graphic markings.
Vertical and Horizontal Sight Alignment,
If speed is more controlled at the critical areas, the sight alignment required is narrower and can work within the existing right of way. See Crash Analysis Alternatives Section above.