Residents of Palatine’s unincorporated Plum Grove Estates subdivision packed the room last Wednesday evening to offer their views about plans to replace a beloved neighborhood bridge.
Plum Grove Estates is west of Illinois Route 53 and north of Algonquin Road.
Palatine Township Highway Commissioner John Powers presented to about 150 residents plans to replace the Briarwood Lane bridge over Salt Creek. The bridge is 60 years old and there are several cracks in the foundation with exposed rebar, he said.
Instead of doing nothing, or repairing the bridge for $370,000 — which would give it another 10 to 12 years of life — Powers has plans to replace the bridge entirely. His plans call for widening the bridge by six to eight feet, realigning the last 50 feet in an S-curve leading up to the bridge and removing the culverts underneath, which tend to catch debris.
Replacing the bridge and straightening the roadway to increase visibility will cost between $800,000 and $1 million, but some residents are less than thrilled with Powers’ plans.
Joe Fallon, who has lived in the area for 33 years, is worried that removing the arc in the S-curve just before the bridge will increase the speed of traffic, making it even more dangerous for pedestrians since the subdivision has no sidewalks.
“I work out of my front office and I see these kids coming with bikes, kids anywhere from 3 to 14, and they walk in packs,” Fallon said. “Meanwhile, there are cars coming by at 40 mph.”
An increase in the amount of cut-through traffic was raised as a safety concern by Debbie Wear, whose property is next to the bridge. She said Briarwood Lane tends to act as a bypass for commuters between Meacham and Frontage roads, and feared that widening the bridge will increase the amount of fast-moving traffic.
Wear presented at the meeting a list of alternatives to replacing the bridge that includes reducing the speed limit from 25 mph to 20 mph, using new reflective warning sings by the bridge, recognizing the importance of “traffic-calming” patterns and clearing the brush for a clear line of sight past the bridge. She pointed out that there have been only two accidents related to the bridge since 1988, both were alcohol-related.
Residents at the meeting also expressed concern about the removal of eight mature oak and hickory trees. Powers said there were only three trees in question for removal, all of which could be saved.
The Palatine Township Highway Commission submitted the plans to replace the bridge to the Illinois Department of Transportation late last year and is waiting to hear back for final approval on the project, said Roland Sachs, superintendent for Palatine Township Highway Commission.