Forrest Hill likely to be condensed to two lanes; focuses to ensure safety of school children

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PEORIA, Ill. — A heavily traveled road may soon lose two lanes of traffic.

The goal of this road change is to ensure the safety of school children in the area. This proposal affects Forrest Hill from Sterling to University Street. At the center of that strip of road is Dr. Maude Sanders Primary School.

Councilman Chuck Grayeb says the safety of school children needs to be the priority.

“It’s a fragile area with a school and we have a heavy responsibility to ensure the safety of kids. Yes, if we can do a bike path consistent with the master bike plan, what was also implemented years ago by a city council, so much the better. But that’s not the driving force. The safety of the children, the safety of the motorists, safety of the people of Peoria is number one,” Grayeb said.

The project on Forrest Hill will take the road from four lanes to two.

It will also add a bike path making the area safer for cyclists, ideally connecting a path which travels the whole city of Peoria.

“I can remember when we did the Rock Island Trail. People were saying ‘that’s a waste of money. Nobody will use it.’ Guess what, drive past there. You’ll see joggers you’ll see bicyclists,” Grayeb said.

Mayor Jim Ardis says this change will help the city become more biker-friendly.

“The bike transportation initiative in the city is something we’re continuing to expand upon. We have a program that identifies the areas that we want to increase opportunities for people that use something other than your typical car for transportation,” Mayor Ardis said.

Ardis adds he thinks Forrest Hill never had to be four lanes in the first place.

“There’s also concerns from businesses in the area that traffic is flying by there fast and there’s a lot of activity in that area.  I think Forrest Hill frankly was over built.  I don’t think we need that many lanes of traffic and that kind of speed through that area,” Ardis said.

Councilman Grayeb held a meeting Monday night with homeowners in his district as well as Peoria police who gave a report on the amount of speeding in the area.

“We’ve had fatal auto accidents, a pedestrian struck and I’m just going back relatively small number of months. Statistics last night indicated there were some 900 cars during the time frame that was measure going 50 miles per hour or more,” Grayeb said.

Mayor Ardis adds The City will put a plan in place.

“I expect the engineering department and Public Works will bring back a proposal on how to narrow those lanes down and whether you can use bump outs of the curbs or just do it all by striping lanes to move traffic over,” Ardis said.

And unless there is major disagreement, the process to get this to work won’t be too difficult.

“Unless the Manager hears some significant opposition from the council I believe this is something he can do administratively,” Ardis said.

Grayeb says because of a Complete Streets Philosophy passed by the city council decades ago, the city’s plans are to balance out the importance of cars and pedestrians on our local roads.

Grayeb adds there have been two deaths along that strip of road in the last 14 months. He hopes by making this change, we won’t see any more moving forward.

He says this project will cost nearly $10,000.

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