Update: City Council voted to keep the intersection as it had been, without the raised median. Interestingly though, when IDOT painted the pavement markings, they added a left turn lane from northbound Rt 31 onto westbound Houston St., which we had been told would not be allowed. Common sense prevails.
For discussion and vote Monday night, 6/22/15 is a proposed raised median in the center of Rt 31 on the south side of Houston (by the Mobil just north of Wilson–the intersection by the Hardee’s) where the striped lines currently are. A 4/17/15 staff memo with drawings can be read here.
- Reasons against: The Batavia Police Department recommends against it, saying it would create a false sense of security. It would be safer crossing at the light at Wilson just a block south. It could hurt the Mobil’s business, as it would block off their northern driveway. There is no straight sidewalk connection, and pedestrians would have to cross 31 from the Mobil driveway. From a traffic study, the intersection of Houston and 31 does not have heavy pedestrian/bike traffic (just 12 pedestrian and 6 bike crossings over the 6 hours of the study–peak traffic time). There are no pedestrian/bike accidents reported at the intersection. By IL law, motorists must stop for pedestrians in crosswalks (this would be a new crosswalk just one block north of Wilson). It costs the city taxpayers money.
- Reasons for: Staff and the bike commission want it and say it would improve safety at the intersection for pedestrians and bicyclists, so they can cross 2 lanes of traffic, wait on the island, then cross 2 more. They have a grant (80/20, state taxpayer/City taxpayer split for this proposal and other projects).
Regarding the proposed raised median, what they don’t say in writing, but what you can see in the drawing, is that most of the raised median will be landscaped area. The only paved area for pedestrians will be a small 5’x6′ section; the rest is landscaped. One might question whether the push for this median is merely for aesthetics–to “beautify” the intersection to go along with the rest of the streetscaping in downtown.
It’s worth noting that the design for the island on 31 was never brought to the City Council for approval, and the Council only heard about it because the Mobil owner came to them with concerns that the island would hurt his business. There was a lack of communication from staff to Council.