David S. Jasmer
Setting the Standard in Personal Injury
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2004 Winnetka traffic safety project finally set to begin

North Shore residents have spent the better part of a decade waiting for improvements to a troublesome Cook County intersection. New safety features will be installed at a Winnetka intersection by August with hopes of preventing needless vehicle and pedestrian accidents.

The unusual, angled configuration of the Green Bay Road and Winnetka Avenue intersection and land ownership issues presented challenges. The village's first proposal in 2004 did not satisfy Illinois transportation officials. It would take 11 variances and more than nine years for local and state authorities to come to an agreeable plan.

Features in the final project included the addition of a northbound turn lane, left turn arrows and extra road space for large vehicles to make turns. Widening of the intersection also required village officials to rework a land lease with a car dealership.

The project is slated to begin next month and finish just before fall classes at nearby New Trier High School. Rearranged pedestrian crossings will keep bus students from having to cross the intersection more than once.

The long-awaited improvements may reduce the number of traffic accidents at the Winnetka intersection. A student at New Trier High School suffered brain damage from a 2010 pedestrian accident at the crossroads caused by a classmate.

Police did not speculate whether that accident, or the nine crashes reported at Green Bay Road and Winnetka Avenue in 2012, was related to the intersection's layout.

Changes to traffic and pedestrian flow at the problem Illinois intersection were needed and recognized years before construction was approved. The slow bureaucratic process stalled improvements that officials knew were necessary to increase safety. As the paper trail grew longer, the chances for accidents grew.

Governments may be held accountable for known traffic hazards that cause injuries or deaths. Financial settlements and jury awards are possible for personal injury and wrongful death cases that name negligent local or state officials as defendants.

Source: chicagotribune.com, "After nine years, improvements coming to Green Bay Road and Winnetka Avenue intersection," Gregory Trotter, Feb. 12, 2013

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