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Residents petition for changes at St. Charles intersection where teen was killed in crash last month

A St. Charles North High School senior is petitioning for safety improvements at the intersection of Randall and Red Gate roads where a North graduate was killed in a crash in August.

More than 5,800 people had signed Ella Roth’s petition as of Friday morning. The St. Charles resident plans to present the petition to the Kane County Board’s transportation committee at its Sept. 20 meeting.

The push for safety improvements at the intersection comes after 19-year-old Kevin White died from injuries he suffered in an Aug. 16 crash at the intersection. Authorities said White was a passenger in a car traveling north on Randall Road when it was struck by another vehicle traveling south as it was making a left turn from Randall onto Red Gate.

St. Charles North's Kevin White (20) pitches against the Wheaton North during the Class 4A Regional baseball final in St. Charles on Monday, June 7, 2021.

St. Charles North’s Kevin White (20) pitches against the Wheaton North during the Class 4A Regional baseball final in St. Charles on Monday, June 7, 2021. (Mark Black for Shaw Local/)

“The main goal of this petition is to increase safety,” said Roth, who herself was involved in a crash also involving a left turn at that same intersection her sophomore year. Two months after that crash, she witnessed another crash, again involving a left turn, at the intersection.

Randall and Red Gate roads see heavy traffic, particularly during drop-off and pickup times at St. Charles North, located off Red Gate near Randall. The intersection is set up to allow protected left turns, meaning motorists can turn on the green turn arrow while through traffic is stopped at a red light, and permissive left turns, meaning motorists still can turn left on the yellow turn signal but must yield to through traffic.

Several of White’s relatives and friends have signed the petition. Many who signed have suggested the county needs to change the intersection to only allow left turns on a green arrow.

“This needs to be corrected before anyone else is hurt or worse,” wrote Elaina Meiners, White’s mother, on the petition. “No one should have to attend their child’s funeral.”

According to the Kane County Sherrif’s Office, there were 20 collisions at that intersection in 2021, two involving injuries, 15 involving property damage only, and one hit and run. So far this year, 12 crashes, including three with injuries, have been reported at the intersection.

“Generally speaking, the number of left-turning crashes at this location are higher than what we’d like to see,” said Stephen Zulkowski, chief of traffic operations for the Kane County Division of Transportation.

Zulkowski could not provide further details about the number of crashes involving left turns, noting it was part of an ongoing review of the intersection. Officials will present their findings to the county board’s transportation committee on Sept. 20.

Zulkowski did note there has been a general uptick in crashes at that intersection. According to police reports, there were eight crashes at the intersection in 2016, 13 crashes in 2017, 15 crashes in 2018, and 10 crashes in 2019. Crashes drastically dropped in 2020, likely due to stay-at-home orders and schools adopting remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Only five crashes were reported at the intersection in 2020.

Zulkowski said federal guidelines suggest transportation officials can begin considering changes at an intersection if there have been more than three crashes per year that could be corrected by taking action, such as only allowing left turns on the green arrow. However, the county also must consider other factors, such as how changing to left turn on green arrow only would affect queuing areas for left turns.

“We don’t want to create a new problem when solving another,” he said.

The county also is looking at other factors such as speed and sight distance issues due to a slight hill on Randall Road near the intersection. Roth and others are hopeful the study will provide a plan to improve the intersection.

“We don’t want this to happen again,” St. Charles Mayor Lora Vitek said. “If there’s something we can do I’m hoping the engineers of the county can do that.”

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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