Proposed Median for Crystal Lake Avenue Has Residents Taking Sides

Plans for the Crystal Lake Avenue construction project call for a barrier median to prevent left turns onto East Street because of its proximity to the railroad tracks.


Road improvement work on Crystal Lake Avenue from East to Erick streets has one feature that is not sitting well with some residents in the surrounding neighborhood.

East Street's 50-foot proximity to the Union Pacific/ Metra railroad tracks requires a six-inch high median be constructed in order to meet federal safety standards.

The median would prevent eastbound motorists on Crystal Lake Avenue from turning left onto East Street.

Currently, drivers on Crystal Lake Avenue waiting to turn northbound onto East Street can cause a backup of traffic - resulting in motorists "queuing" or stopping on the railroad tracks, city officials said. 

Included in city documents is a crash study conducted from 2002 to 2006 showing the intersection as a "high crash location" according to Illinois Department of Transportation standards at the time. 

"In the four-year period analyzed, 47 crashes occurred in the entire project study area, of which 23 of these crashes (49%) occurred at the East Crystal Lake Avenue/East Street/railroad crossing alone," the study revealed.

At the Oct. 16th city council meeting, staff members said in September they visited with business owners located along East Street and most understood the safety concern and reasoning for implementing the no-turn median at the intersection.

Motorists and truckers will still be permitted to make right-in and right-out turns at the intersection.

One resident even suggested city leaders consider closing the road all together, creating a dead-end where East Street meets Crystal Lake Avenue.

JimTomasello, who lives at the corner of the intersection, rented a portable sign for his front lawn and hung the message, "The city screwed us" on it. Tomasello could not be reached for comment, and had removed the sign on Thursday. 

Other residents, including some who have contacted Patch, welcome the addition of the median and said they are concerned about the number of motorists who routinely stop on top of the tracks.

Several neighbors attended the Tuesday, Nov. 6th city council meeting asking council members to seek another solution to improving safety at the corner. Some residents feared the no-turn restriction would send more traffic down Erick and Prairie streets.

One suggestion was to add more striping on the road.

"Well, we already have striping there," said Erik Morimoto, director of engineering and building for the city of Crystal Lake. "Basically, the council (on Tuesday) directed staff to contact IDOT to confirm with them that there is no other way to create a barrier."

In the meantime, the city has placed barrels at the site as a temporary median.

Improvement plans for Crystal Lake Avenue included widening the road, installing a center turn lane to ease homeowners ability to access their driveways and adding curbing, sewer lines and sidewalks. The plans were approved several years ago, and city leaders said altering from the IDOT-approved project could jeopardize the federal funding received for it.

In the meantime, a no-left turn sign was installed at the corner of East Street at Crystal Lake Avenue. In September and October, the Crystal Lake Police Department issued 111 citations/ warnings to motorists violating the new regulation. 

P W November 10, 2012 at 04:13 PM
This seriously is very poor judgement for the person who dreamed this up. The property owner has every right to be upset. Lets name names...who did come up with this stupid idea? If you are so right you will want to tell us your side. Wrong as it is...
JPR November 10, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Thank you IDOT. This has been a dangerous spot and the change is welcomed.
Stephanie Price (Editor) November 10, 2012 at 05:51 PM
PW, it's my understanding that the city staff is trying to bring the intersection up to federal and state standards....not necessarily someone's idea, but rather someone doing his/ her job. Personally, (just my opinion!) I thought the idea of making it a dead-end street seemed like the safest idea....especially since the bike route leads down that road.
Stephanie Price (Editor) November 10, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Comment from Michelle on Facebook: Could not agree more with Jim. And the comments that Mr. Shepley made about the bus drivers shows no confidence in them. During the 1st phase of the.project i made numerous calls for the city to come see what they created and to fix certain elements. They didn't even have the courteousy to return a phone call.
Stephanie Price (Editor) November 10, 2012 at 05:57 PM
COMMENT FROM ERIN ON FACEBOOK: I guess I'm confused why residents are upset about this when it is to meet federal safety standards. Isn't it then out of the city's control? And I'm sure if I lived right there I would be unhappy too, it's a mess right now (then again I consciously made a decision not to buy a house on a busy road). But I have seen a number of people scramble off of the train tracks they were stopped on because a train was coming. Hmmmm, be mad because you can't turn left or potentially fatal accidents, seems like a no brainer to me.
Stephanie Price (Editor) November 10, 2012 at 05:57 PM
COMMENT FROM FACEBOOK: Which will create how many more motorists making U turns? They did this over on Ackman too, no left turns, glad I don't live in Skyridge. Becoming a right turn only world. Doubt it's all for safety,more like lack of patience. But I guess be glad they are doing anything at all since the city refuses to do anything about the flooding problem at the corner of Uteg & College.
P W November 10, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Let me try again...I used to work at Oaks. I knew/visited people who lived down that street. That street has been there for a very long time. Maybe people that drive in that location should pay attention. The trains give plenty of warning that a train is coming. It is irresponsible people that fail to use judgment when approaching that part of the road. I feel sorry for the guy living at that intersection. Just so you know Stephanie, saying bringing it up to state/federal standards just confirms what a joke this is. The disapointment I am feeling since the last election is still too fresh in my mind. I think of our Government as laughable. I don't have any faith in their standards.
Stephanie Price (Editor) November 10, 2012 at 07:16 PM
PW - sorry you are suffering after the election. I can't help you there. I have lived here my whole life and use East Street frequently to get to the ice rink and to bike on. The reality is that people heading down Crystal Lake Avenue often hit the brakes suddenly to try to make that quick left turn after the tracks and, if there's oncoming traffic, sometimes cars back up on the tracks. Keep in mind, there's a lot more traffic now than in the Oak Industries days.
Railroaded November 10, 2012 at 07:26 PM
More misguided reporting based on spoon-fed gibberish from the city. We FOIA'd the accident reports and actually read them. There was ONE accident that was directly attributed to a left turn at this intersection from 2008-2012 (5%, not 49%). Also missing from this article is our concern for access to emergency vehicles for any business or residents north of CL Avenue. Additionally, if you had widened that photo just a little, you would have seen that the bike path route sign is right next to the "No Left Turn" sign. Forget the median, put in a bike rack, because you can't turn here anymore. Sloppy homework on the part of city staff all in the name of federal funding. For those that still think this was needed, here's a thought: Don't stop on the RR tracks! It has worked for me for decades.
Railroaded November 11, 2012 at 06:34 AM
Stephanie, PW has a point. More traffic now than in the Oak Industries days? I used to work there too, and both of those huge parking lots were FULL of cars. Many of them used this intersection without incident. Maybe you should quit while you're behind. You obviously weren't prepared to publish an un-biased article on this subject, because you didn't look at all the available data yourself. If you want to be successful in journalism, do your homework and refrain from making foolish comments. On the other hand, you might have a future in the city staff.
Stephanie Price (Editor) November 11, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Dale, I have no say or personal interest in whether the median goes in or not - guessing it will go in....not sure anyone has a choice. The road is 50 feet from the railroad tracks.
Jane Doe November 15, 2012 at 05:21 AM
James Tomasello has nothing better to do with his time and money than to put up signs and harrass the city of Crystal Lake. Maybe the city should look into his garage which is an apartment that has a full kitchen and bathroom. LAST TIME I CHECKED, YOU NEED A PERMIT FOR THAT. In which he applied for NONE....


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