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Busy Peoria intersection on track for a long-needed reconstruction

Joe Deacon
The Peoria Public Works Department is conducting design work on reconstruction of the Pioneer Parkway-University Street intersection. Construction is targeted to begin in the spring in hopes of completion by the end of next year.

Improvements are coming to one of Peoria’s busier intersections, likely by the end of next year.

Earlier this week, the Department of Public Works held an open house for community feedback on plans to reconstruct the intersection of Pioneer Parkway and University Street.

“If you've driven out there recently, you understand that the pavement is in desperate need of some work,” said Public Works Deputy Director and City Engineer Andrea Klopfenstein. “We're really excited to finally have the funding to do this intersection.

“Not only will we get new pavement, there will be new traffic signals, some lighting, a bike path, and sidewalks. So we'll be starting the pedestrian and bicycle facilities for the Pioneer Parkway corridor.”

The project is budgeted at $6.85 million, with $2.42 million provided through a federal grant. The remainder will come from state and local motor fuel tax revenue and stormwater utility funds.

Both streets will have curbs and gutters removed and replaced. Pioneer will have a shared-use path added on the south side and a new sidewalk on the north side. Along University north of the intersection, a proposed shared-use path on the west side will connect to the existing path at Altorfer Drive.

“We're not really changing what the intersection will look like, other than the pedestrian and bicycle accommodations,” said Klopfenstein. “The road lanes will get a little bit smaller, because they are pretty big right now.”

Following the completion of design work, the project will open for bids in the late fall with the start of construction targeted for next spring.

“If we have good weather next year, it will be completed by the end of 2024,” said Klopfenstein, noting that traffic flow will continue as they do not plan to shut down the entire intersection.

Klopfenstein said they’re still applying for more grant money so they can pursue additional Pioneer Parkway improvements.

“Those are desperately needed, but at this point we just don't have funding yet,” she said.

Plan to address speeding

Klopfenstein said the city is working on an update to its “traffic calming” program to cut down on speeding.

“We have an existing traffic-calming policy, and we're looking at revamping it,” she said. “It's about five years old (and) that was neighborhood traffic calming only. So we're looking to expanding that to cover all the streets within the city's jurisdiction.”

Klopfenstein said the existing policy centered around what she called “built infrastructure,” which includes such things as speed humps, edge-line striping, medians, and neighborhood traffic circles.

“What we're saying now is that traffic calming includes education,” said Klopfenstein. “So if your neighborhood has a speeding problem and your neighborhood only has one way in and out, most likely the speeding is your neighbors.

“So the education, if it's really important to you, as a neighbor, to slow the speeding down, then you just need to talk to your neighbors and be like, ‘Hey, guys. Did you know that you guys are really driving fast by my house as you're traveling to your house?’ We're hoping that that kind of neighborhood communication can help slow some of the traffic down.”

Klopfenstein said another key component to cutting down on speeding is increased enforcement.

“We can do only so much as far as engineering, but we really need enforcement to be part of the equation that helps people to understand that this is important and this is something that we should really make a priority, is to keep our speeds down and drive safely,” she said.

Klopfenstein said the updated traffic calming program will be presented at the Transportation Commission’s June meeting. If the commission adopts it, the plan will be presented to the City Council for approval in July.

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Contact Joe at jdeacon@ilstu.edu.