Walker says the city should adjust traffic signal timing street by street to alleviate common backups.
Jim Haselhorst says the city’s traffic problem needs a comprehensive solution because every time signals are adjusted on one street, drivers change their habits, causing backups elsewhere.
Steve Chirico says the planned implementation of an integrated traffic management system on Washington Street will help, as will good city planning to avoid creating future traffic nightmares.
And Doug Krause says the city needs to form better intergovernmental partnerships — since many roads in Naperville are managed by a township, a county or the state — and spend more on street improvements and maintenance.
This is an important issue for a suburb that claims a high quality of life (#33 in Money‘s recent list of best places to live) yet has a large population (the fifth largest city in Illinois). The problems stretch back decades: Naperville, like many Chicago suburbs, had a better system of east-west transportation (think the highways and trains on the hub and spoke model with Chicago); the city’s sprawling growth outpaced the local north-south roads; the proposed Fox Valley Freewayway never materialized; and mass transit does not adequately connect destinations along the north-south axis (though Pace and others always have plans). The best answer for these issues is probably that this should have all been planned for a long time ago. But, few people ever thought Naperville would have been this big.
Yet, I think simply talking about existing roads doesn’t do much. Traffic light synchronization should have been done a while ago if it is such a solution. Again, why weren’t plans implemented earlier on Washington Street to help traffic get through downtown? Widening roads may increase the number of lanes but this can also increase traffic volume which fills up those new lanes. Adding right-turn lanes could help at intersections but it can be a lot of work for relatively little new road space.
I would be interested to see some Naperville officials think big here. Single, easy solutions will be hard to find. Enhancing mass transit within Naperville and to other communities would help. A comprehensive and varied approach is needed, particularly if the city has any designs on denser development (which is what is needed if the city wants to continue to grow given its lack of large plots of open land).