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DuPage to study new Great Western Trail crossing, with an eye toward bike safety

The Great Western Trail crossing at County Farm Road near Carol Stream has no history of significant crashes.

But navigating the stretch of trail across a four-lane road can take some bicyclists on a white-knuckle ride.

The DuPage County Division of Transportation and consultants plan to study what might become a more preferred route: Realigning a section of the regional trail so it would instead cross County Farm at St. Charles Road, an intersection with a traffic signal to the north.

The study will help map out the logistics and cost of moving the limestone trail and reorienting cyclists to the signalized intersection. The trail could be diverted through DuPage Forest Preserve District land on the west side of County Farm.

“We would also be looking for public input on that as well,” said Christopher Snyder, the county’s director of transportation.

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

In 2015, DuPage conducted a study of road and bike traffic to determine whether a signal was warranted at the existing County Farm crossing. Earlier this year, trail users asked county officials to revisit the analysis.

“There was some interest by some residents to look at that crossing, expressing concern for safety,” Snyder said.

The county did another study on multiple weekends in the spring and reached the same conclusion. The results did not justify a traffic light at either the trail crossing or at nearby Hawthorne Lane. The bike counts fell short of requirements.

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

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

“We’re very cognizant of public safety, and that’s always something we’re reviewing,” said Donald Puchalski, chairman of the county board’s transportation committee. “But there’s been no incident that would precipitate something.”

Still, board member Jim Zay suggested the realignment of the trail and reducing the speed limit on the thoroughfare. The area has become more residential, Zay said, with the development of town homes around Klein Creek.

After an engineering study, the board last month lowered the speed limit from 45 to 40 miles per hour on County Farm, from 300 feet south of Hawthorne Lane to North Avenue. Crews recently posted new signs alerting drivers to the limit change.

“We’ve been 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 updated, offering another opportunity for public engagement.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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