As far as cut-throughs go, Fort Hill Drive south of Ogden Avenue might be one of Naperville’s worst-kept secrets. Officially classified as a “collector” street, unofficially it can be a preferred road for motorists on their way to and from the cluster of stores along 75th Street who want to avoid Route 59.
“We can only imagine what will happen once the Wal-Mart is open,” Naperville resident Kelly Boyle said.
The street is riddled with so much traffic nearby residents frequently are forced to take alternate routes or allow extra time just to get out of their neighborhood.
“Countless times have we seen motorists barely slowing down, yet alone stopping at the stop sign at Fort Hill and Sanctuary, which is adjacent to Colishaw Elementary (School),” Boyle said.
Turning onto Fort Hill Drive from her home sometimes “can take a couple of minutes because of the amount of traffic and lack of stopping,” she said.
Naperville resident Li Tai is a mother of four with three children attending Colishaw.
“I’ve heard, seen and personally experienced a lot of close calls with vehicles and pedestrians along Fort Hill, especially at the stop sign on Sanctuary,” she said.
“The only times I’ve seen people actually drive anything close to the speed limit are when there is a clear police presence. I’ve seen the school crossing guard almost get run over a few times already this year.”
Naperville resident Jen Phelan’s children have friends who live on the opposite side of Fort Hill Drive.
“We worry when we send them on foot or bike to cross without us,” she said.
Phelan also is concerned about her middle-school-aged daughter who has to cross Fort Hill Drive to catch her bus.
“During the winter, there are about a dozen neighborhood children who play on the same soccer team at Players Indoor Sports — just up the road along Fort Hill,” said Karen Ahern, an 18-year resident of Naperville’s Ivy Ridge subdivision.
Without traffic, the trip would take about 3 to 5 minutes, Ahern said.
“On Saturdays, there isn’t one family that will exit the neighborhood at Fort Hill and Ogden to go the most direct route to Players because the line of cars is always backed up at least two blocks to the south from Ogden.”
She said the soccer families leave at least 20 minutes earlier than normal and exit the neighborhood in the opposite direction of the sport’s facility.
“The city has received inquiries regarding traffic flow on Fort Hill Drive and some of the surrounding streets near 75th Street now that the construction of the Wal-Mart is underway,” said Allison M. Albrecht, communications specialist with the city of Naperville.
Earlier this year, Albrecht said the city’s transportation team completed various data collection and analysis of traffic volumes, speeds, stop sign compliance and accidents on Fort Hill Drive near Sanctuary Lane.
“As a result of those studies and analysis, city staff found that it does not show that traffic patterns on Fort Hill Drive warrant mitigation measures at this time,” she added.
Albrecht explained that the city is coordinating efforts with the Police Department to ensure this area is added to the list of speed enforcement monitored by police.
Temporary speed display units are being placed at key locations, she said. The city is also making sure trees are trimmed so they don’t block speed limit signs for passing motorists.
However, Albrecht said the city recognizes that traffic volumes on Fort Hill Drive have increased since 2007. The city also recognizes new residential and commercial developments will likely impact traffic.
Albrecht stressed that the city understands that Wal-Mart opening next year and further development at Mayfair townhome development will change traffic volumes.
Once Wal-Mart opens and after traffic patterns have stabilized in the area, the city will conduct another speed and volume study. The results will determine whether changes will be implemented.
In addition, affected residents have been encouraged to pick up complimentary “Friendly Street” signs from the city. Now all we need is motorists who read them.