After several months studying the intersection of Modaff Road, Gartner Road and Magnolia Lane, Naperville’s Transportation and Advisory Board decided not to recommend either its realignment or the installation of a traffic light.
City staff compared the intersection with other similar intersections in the city and found its accident rate not to be excessive.
“The corner of Gartner, Modaff and Magnolia Lane was right in the middle,” Project Engineer Kim Schmidt told the board concerning the accident rate there during the last two years.
Of the seven crashes reported, most were rear end collisions, rather than the typically more dangerous “T-bone” situations.
The recommendation is one of 38 others sent to the full City Council that are the result of the first in a series of planned Neighborhood Traffic Studies.
The area covered in the first study, Zone 11, has boundaries of Edward Hospital on the north, Washington Street on the east, 75th Street on the south and West Street on the west.
The concerns about the Gartner, Modaff and Magnolia intersection first surfaced during open houses conducted by city staff to gain resident input on traffic concerns in Zone 11.
The misalignment of the intersection results from the fact that it is not an intersection at all, but rather two roadways, Modaff and Magnolia, built at different times that end at Gartner but don’t quite meet each other to create a normal intersection.
Magnolia ends just to the west of Gartner, Modaff to the east.
Schmidt noted that the odd geometry of the intersection may actually work to produce more cautious drivers, resulting in fewer collisions of the more dangerous variety.
If City Council agrees to leave the intersection as is, the savings to the city’s capital spending program stand to be significant. Installation of a traffic light alone would cost between $250,000 and $300,000. Even more expensive would be reconfiguring the roadways to form a more normal intersection.
Half of the intersection could be realigned at a cost of $400,000 to $450,000 and be accomplished by reducing the width of the intersection by 50 percent along with a 12 percent reduction in the Modaff crosswalk. But that would still leave a misaligned intersection.
Completely realigning the intersection would cost between $500,000 and $550,000.
The board also recommends installing lanes designated to be shared by both motorists and bicyclists on Gartner between Washington and Modaff and on Modaff between Gartner and 75th Street.
The lanes would be marked with a symbol of a bicycle rider and are considered by many to be a more effective alternative than setting aside a lane for use exclusively by bicyclists.
If approved, the shared lanes would be the first of their kind to be used in Naperville and for that reason the board decided to approve the recommendation with a two-year trial period.
The recommendations go to the full City Council Nov. 3.