Winnetka to address pedestrian safety on Green Bay
Hundreds of New Trier students funnel through the intersection at Green Bay Road and Winnetka Avenue before and after school. The Winnetka Village Council approved funding Feb. 5 to improve the intersection. | Steve Schering~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 29, 2012 9:24AM
WINNETKA — Every day hundreds of New Trier High School students flow out of the campus to walk westbound on Winnetka Avenue and are met at Green Bay Road by crossing guard Juan Gomez.
Gomez has been at his post keeping an eye on the students for over a year.
On Nov. 20 the kids had just finished up their final school day before Thanksgiving break, and Gomez does his best to make sure they cross the intersection at Winnetka Avenue and Green Bay Road safely.
“The kids are always looking at their phones, texting or using earphones,” Gomez said. “They start running from the viaduct (east of the intersection) to catch the bus.”
After school days, the Pace bus stop at the southwest corner of the intersection near 7-Eleven fills up quickly, and Gomez has to put his arm out to keep students from running across the street. He typically waits 40-50 minutes until the student traffic dies down before calling it a day.
Now a plan to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety at the intersection appears to be entering the home stretch.
Winnetka Village Engineer Steve Saunders said bidding on improvements at the intersection is now open.
Among the scheduled improvements include new modernized traffic signals, dedicated left-turn arrows for each direction of the intersection, an improved right-turn lane from northbound Green Bay Road to eastbound Winnetka Avenue to improve the turn for school buses and cross walk modifications.
Saunders said the village has spoken with Pace about moving the bus stop to the northwest corner of the intersection near First Bank and Trust to make it easier to access for students.
“There will be some minor geometric changes to fit the northbound (Green Bay Road) left-turn lane,” Saunders said. “The idea is to start construction during the week of spring break and have it wrapped up by the time school opens in the fall.”
Tim Dohrer, principal of New Trier’s Winnetka campus, served as head of the school’s traffic and parking committee. The group has worked with the village and recommended the bus stop be moved north of Winnetka Avenue as part of the improved intersection.
“We are certainly supportive of any project that will make the area around the school safer for drivers and pedestrians,” Dohrer said. “We are pleased (the new bus stop) will be part of the project.”
The proposed improvements were complicated by the fact that Green Bay Road is managed by the Illinois Department of Transportation while Winnetka Avenue is a village road. After many years of planning, including over 12 months to transfer a part of the intersection’s southeast corner to IDOT, a completed project is nearing reality.
“It’s been a long process to get it through IDOT,” Saunders said. “(After bids are received) we’ll have an idea what the actual cost is and be able to take it from there.”