DuPage to study new Great Western Trail level crossing, keeping an eye on bike safety

The Great Western Trail junction at County Farm Road near Carol Stream has no significant accident history.

But navigating the section of trail through a four-lane road can lead to some cyclists having a breathless ride.

The DuPage County Transportation Division and consultants plan to investigate what may become a more preferred route: realigning a section of the regional trail so that it instead crosses County Farm at St. Charles Road, an intersection with a traffic light signage to the north.

The study will help map the logistics and costs of moving the limestone trail and redirecting cyclists to the signalized intersection. The trail may be diverted through land in the DuPage Forest Preserve district on the west side of County Farm.

“We are also seeking public comment on this,” said Christopher Snyder, county transportation manager.

The eastern branch of the Great Western Trail spans DuPage from West Chicago to Villa Park, within the right-of-way of the former Chicago and Great Western Railroad.

In 2015, DuPage conducted a road and bicycle traffic study to determine if a signal was warranted at the existing County Farm Crossing. Earlier this year, trail users asked county officials to review the analysis.


        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

“There was some interest from some residents watching this crossing, expressing concern for safety,” Snyder said.

The county did another study over several weekends in the spring and came to the same conclusion. The results did not warrant a traffic light at the trail crossing or near Hawthorne Lane. The number of bikes did not meet the requirements.

“The number we needed to hit or approach was 93 users in a single hour, any time of the day,” Snyder told county board members in June. “And the closest we got for an hour was 51.”

Snyder also noted “there is no history” of accidents. The county installed overhead signs to improve visibility of the crosswalk.

“We’re very conscious of public safety, and it’s always something we’re looking at,” said Donald Puchalski, chairman of the county council’s transportation committee. “But there were no incidents that would precipitate anything.”

Still, board member Jim Zay suggested realigning the trail and lowering the speed limit on the thoroughfare. The area has become more residential, Zay said, with townhouse development around Klein Creek.

After a technical review, the council last month lowered the speed limit from 45 to 40 miles per hour on County Farm, 300 feet south of Hawthorne Lane at North Avenue. Crews recently posted new signs alerting drivers to the boundary change.

“We were very proactive,” Puchalski said.

As the study progresses and trail configurations take shape, Snyder said transportation planners will keep Puchalski and the rest of the committee informed, providing another opportunity for public engagement.

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