SYCAMORE – Julie Weingarz lives in a subdivision along Plank Road and east of Moose Range Road. She views the speed limit change on Plank Road as a positive step forward to make the road and the area residents safer.
The speed limit on Plank Road from 1,700 feet southwest of Moose Range Road to 500 feet north and east of Moose Range Road will reduce from 55 mph to 45 mph. Nathan Schwartz, DeKalb County engineer, said the new speed limit signs will go up in the next week or two, depending on the weather.
“I hope it is a harbinger for things to come as far as them looking at Plank Road for these small, inexpensive changes to see how they affect the acceleration rates and the safety,” Weingarz said about the DeKalb County Highway Department.
However, this is just the first step.
“We’re persisting,” said Weingarz, whose petition has the support of more than 2,300 concerned citizens, said she will keep fighting. She and others will go to every county highway meeting and every board meeting in order to get the changes they strongly feel the area needs.
Schwartz said he’s been thinking for years how to make Plank Road a safer commute. He said the county highway department has been thinking for decades how to make the road safer.
“This is just one more small step into working towards safety,” Schwartz said.
He said why the stretch of road got its new speed limit.
“We found this section with this stretch of houses, which are primarily immediately south of Moose Range Curve qualified to have a reduced speed limit, according to state law,” Schwartz said.
He said the DeKalb County Highway Department looked at other areas along Plank Road, near Devine Way and Gerry Lane, which have a few houses along the road.
“Each of those smaller stretches did not qualify under this particular state law,” he said.
In addition to the 45 mph stretch near Plank Road and Moose Range Road, Schwartz said the DeKalb County Highway Department will also add yellow advisory signs to warn drivers of the residential area, which includes the subdivisions at Devine Way and Gerry Lane.
Schwartz said the department will also add speed detection signs in the next few weeks that tell drivers to slow down if they’re driving faster than they should be.
Schwartz also said the road itself isn’t dangerous. It’s the drivers.
“We believe that if drivers followed the rules of the road, which include passing only when it’s safe to do so, following the speed limit, not being distracted… the road itself is not dangerous,” he said. “The aggressive drivers out there cause the dangerous situations.”
He said there are thousands of people who drive Plank Road every day without getting in a crash.
He said in the last 20 or so years there have been five fatal crashes along that stretch of Plank Road. One was an alcohol related crash on June 21, 2003. On July 15, 2006, a driver passed in a no-passing zone. In November 2009, the driver was distracted by the passenger and drifted over the center-line. In April 2014, a driver crashed while under the influence of alcohol.
And then in December, Kal-El Sexton and his mom Dalahn S. Colley, crashed a “whole mile east of Lukens Road,” which Schwartz said was over by the Kane County line.
To add to the effort to change the road’s safety, Weingarz said she’s been gathering data about the number of people who have died along Plank Road and the number of tickets for drivers traveling 20 miles over the speed limit.
“Over the last three years, 12 tickets were written for 26-34 mph over the speed limit, 5 tickets were written for more than 35 mph over the speed limit [which means] someone’s going over 90 miles per hour,” Weingarz said. “That’s just when the cops are sitting out there.”
Source: The Daily Chronicle