Neighbors fear south Naperville road expansion could worsen traffic
A plan to decrease traffic congestion and prevent crashes at a south Naperville intersection has neighbors worried the proposal instead could do the opposite.
Under discussion is the idea of adding an extra lane on Book Road both north and south through its intersection with 95th Street and adding dedicated right-turn lanes at all four corners. The plan is the largest of three options a consultant devised last year, and it's the one the city's transportation department prefers.
But Tom Verdone, whose side yard on Joyce Lane abuts Book Road, calls the idea a "massive expansion" and said he wants the city to slow down and change course instead of approving it.
The project not only would require some of Verdone's land temporarily for construction and permanently for the wider road, but he worries it also could make travel more difficult.
"If taking part of my property is going to make things better for everyone else," Verdone said, "I'm going to roll with it."
But that's not what he thinks would happen.
With extra lanes and more capacity, Verdone and some of his neighbors say they fear the bigger road only will draw more drivers who want to avoid Route 59 to the west or Plainfield/Naperville Road to the east.
"I think they're trying to kill a fly with a sledgehammer," Verdone said. "By opening this up, it's just going to draw more traffic, more danger."
Cathy Verdone said she fears the project could make it louder to live in her home, more dangerous for people who walk, run or bike on nearby sidewalks, and more time-consuming for neighbors to exit their streets.
The city has planned for years to address traffic and safety at 95th Street and Book Road, said Bill Novack, director of transportation, engineering and development.
The intersection saw 114 crashes between 2013 and 2017, which is nearly three times the expected number at similar intersections across the state, project manager Kelly Dunne said in a memo.
During a meeting last September, the city allowed residents to vote for their favorite plan among the three the consultant put forward.
Dunne's memo said 70 percent expressed support for the proposed plan, with the new north/south through lanes and four right-turn lanes, an estimated $2.4 million project. She said 20 percent supported adding the north-south lanes but only two right-turn lanes -- a southbound lane on Book Road and an eastbound lane on 95th Street, at a projected cost of $2.2 million. The remaining 10 percent voted for an option that only included the two turn lanes, for an estimated $1.2 million.
Dunne's memo said staff members favor the most extensive plan because it would do the most to improve safety.
But the Verdones and their neighbor, Matt Dubiel, say nearby residents who are getting word of the potential project don't support the largest expansion option.
"It's like the plan is to try to help the people cutting through the neighborhood instead of the people who live in the neighborhood," Dubiel said. "There's got to be a way to deter people from coming through here."
The city council is expected to discuss the three construction options July 16.
Before then, Novack said the city plans to apply for federal funding through the highway safety improvement program, which could reimburse up to 90 percent of construction costs. If the council approves a different option, Novack said the city can withdraw or amend its application.
The city is accepting comments about the project through June 20 by email to DunneK@naperville.il.us.