Monday, October 17, 2011

Driver at risk in Tollway work zone

A Letter to the Editor in this morning's Northwest Herald reports the risks incurred by a driver on the Illinois Tollway in our area. Nick Chirikos of Algonquin drove with his family recently on westbound I-90 from Algonquin to the Illinois-Wisconsin state line. On that drive he spent 46 miles in a Work Zone.

Mr. Chirikos must be the only other law-abiding driver in northern Illinois. Feeling adequately warned by the threat of a $375 fine if he got caught speeding, Mr. Chirikos obeyed the 45MPH speed limit - almost, as he wrote that he set his vehicle's cruise control at 47MPH. If his vehicle is like mine, there is a slight error between the speed shown on the speedometer and the true speed of the vehicle.

When my GPS indicates 45MPH, my speedometer shows 47MPH. Frankly, I trust my GPS is the more accurate of the two. So let's assume that Mr. Chirikos was traveling exactly at 45MPH.

What was his experience? "... the most life-threatening hour we have ever experienced". He was tailgated. Actually, it's worse than tailgating when an angry driver runs right up behind you and then swerves in the passing lane. It's a sign of aggression; it's a threat; it's prosecutable, if you can find a trooper to stop the violator. He was cut off by other angry driver who swerved right back into the lane after passing him.

The BIG question is why is a construction zone 46 miles long or, at least, why is a Work Zone speed limit in place for the entire construction zone? Highway engineers give little, if any, thought to the disruption in traffic or to the plight of law-abiding drivers like Mr. Chirikos (or me).

Why doesn't ISP Director Hiram Grau drag himself up to northern Illinois and ride with Mr. Grau or me in that Work Zone? At the speed limit, Director Grau. No fair speeding. Then order your troopers to enforce the speed limit, and not at 10-12-15-20MPH over the posted speed limit. AT the speed limit. That's what the speed LIMIT is; it's the Limit!

The following email was sent to the ISP FOIA Officer this morning:

This is a Freedom of Information Act request for documentation (or information) pertaining to operations of the Illinois State Police work zone radar van(s) and mailed-tickets program.

An acceptable response will be a copy of reports or memoranda which generally answer my request. I do not wish to place an unnecessary burden on the Illinois State Police to respond to my request.

Please provide documentation or information which will generally provide the following information:

1. Number of radar computerized tickets issued by the Illinois State Police in the last 30, 60, 90 and 365 days.
2. Number of days when the radar vans were in use.
3. Locales (by county, city or Interstate) where the vans were used.
4. Disposition or estimate thereof of tickets issued; i.e., the number paid without contest; the number contested, requiring court appearance by ISP trooper; the number dismissed.
5. the speed tolerance (number of MPH)  granted to drivers over the posted Work Zone speed limit before a ticket is generated.
6. the percentage of tickets not issued after manual review of computer results
7. the categories of exceptions to issuing a ticket (ex., police car exceeding speed limit without emergency equipment in use; State of Illinois government vehicles; personal vehicles of legislators, etc.)
8. Number of tickets issued by mail by troopers operating the radar vans to drivers using handheld cell phones in Work Zones.

Information received from you may be published in articles on my blog ( Response by email will be acceptable.

Thank you in advance for your assistance.


M.U.G. said...

Took a trip utilizing Rt 65 South from Gary, Indiana and they had plenty of work zones.

If the lights on the lane markers were flashing the construction speed limit was in effect. Smart move to give the motorist a break during construction when no one or moving equipment was present.

Maybe IL and WI officials should give that idea a try. Naw might take to much effort on their part.

Gus said...

M.U.G., your suggestion makes total sense, which is probably why it's not in use in Illinois.

Did the work zone speed limit used to be that way? Or was it "when workers are present"?

And don't you just love it when you are in a 45MPH work zone and then pass a 55 or 65MPH sign that should have been covered, but wasn't?

M.U.G. said...

In IL the signs used to be "when workers are present" but I bet that did not bring in enough revenue so they simply changed to a 'work zone speed limit'.

Unfortunatley sometimes they forget, with signage, to tell you when the work zone ends.

Now a reasonable man would be able to deduce that but in this state you better be care if you try and out think the powers to be.

Gus said...

M.U.G., you make a good point, when you mention the End Construction Zone signs. Apparently, there is some stupid rule in the play book that says those End signs should be one-half mile beyond the end of the work zone.

Why isn't it put AT the end of the work zone, since drivers are going to speed up (if they haven't already), once they reach that last orange barrel.