City staff plan to ask aldermen Monday night what steps they’d like to try next in the effort to reduce traffic accidents on Ridge Avenue.
Collisions at nine mostly-signalized intersections on the stretch of Ridge from Oakton Street north to Church Street reached 154 last year — noticeably above the average of 145 for the preceding five years.
A decade ago the Illinois Department of Transportation told city officials that crashes could be cut by 25 percent if the city chose to install mast-arm traffic signals along Ridge.
But city officials rejected that idea, after some residents complained that the overhead signals would be out of character with the historic district that includes much of the Ridge Avenue frontage.
Post-top traffic signals at Ridge Avenue and Dempster Street. (Google Maps image)
Instead new traditional post-top signals were installed along Ridge in a coordinated project that also included new mast-arm signals at some nearby intersections — including Asbury Avenue at Dempster Street (shown in the photo at the top of this story), which is also located in the historic district.
In a memo to aldermen Public Works Agency Director Dave Stoneback reviews a variety of other possible strategies that might reduce the accident count.
Those could include reducing the speed limit from 30 to 25 miles per hour, installing speed cameras for enforcement and trimming trees up to 200 feet away from traffic signals to improve visibility.
Split-phase traffic signals at Ridge and Lake and Ridge and Greenleaf — which would give separate green cycles for northbound and southbound traffic could make left turns easier.
But the memo says most accidents at those intersections appear to be due to driver behavior issues that the signal change wouldn’t address. And it would also back up traffic during rush hours and possibly cause some drivers to switch to using other north-south streets, like Asbury.
The memo also offers the option of hiring an engineering consultant in 2019 at a cost of $75,000 to $100,000 to develop more comprehensive solutions that could be implemented in 2020 or later. Those solutions might include revisiting the idea of mast arm traffic signals.
The most dangerous intersection in town (12/20/17)
22 wrecks this year at Ridge and Lake (12/19/17)
Ridge targeted for safety improvements (10/26/17)