Every commuter has their pet peeves. For Shiloh resident Bonnie Falbe, it’s turning left out of her neighborhood onto the busy, two-lane North Green Mount Road during rush hour.
“You can sit and wait five to 10 minutes just to get out of the subdivision,” Falbe said.
In a month and a half, traffic to and from the new St. Elizabeth’s Hospital could add to the number of commuters when it opens Nov. 4 — just three days after workers expect to complete a reconstruction project on North Green Mount Road near the hospital.
The road stretches through residential neighborhoods and commercial districts in Belleville, Shiloh and O’Fallon to just north of Interstate 64.
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Falbe lives in Shiloh, a few miles south of the Green Mount Crossing shopping center in O’Fallon, where a surge in new businesses has lead to increased traffic over recent years. In 2008, roughly 20,000 vehicles passed through the area daily, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. By 2016, daily traffic increased to more than 29,000.
The reconstructed road should relieve congestion, says O’Fallon City Engineer Jeff Taylor. The road will have two northbound and two southbound lanes from U.S. 50 to Regency Park. A new traffic light at Green Mount Road and Cambridge Boulevard will help direct traffic near the hospital, and pedestrians will have access to an asphalt trail on the west side of the road, Taylor said.
The construction contract for the project with Baxmeyer Construction, Inc. will cost the city $2.9 million, according to the city engineer.
Falbe said she’s glad to have a new hospital nearby, but she worries about the possible influx of traffic. That’s a concern shared by Brandon Wilson, a Freeburg resident who commutes daily on Green Mount Road to his job in Fairview Heights. He approves of the reconstruction project, though he said he thinks Green Mount Road should be two lanes from O’Fallon all the way to Belleville.
“It seems like it has gotten worse these past two years, I think, with the new businesses going up,” Wilson said.
It seems like it has gotten worse these past two years, I think, with the new businesses going up.
Brandon Wilson, Freeburg resident
But city officials say the reconstruction will alleviate traffic near the hospital, where business has been booming. In addition to the future hospital, new business along the road includes restaurants, a bank, an office building and, soon, Dewey’s Pizza. With the new business came more traffic, Falbe said.
“It has gotten awful,” Falbe said. “When we moved in the house — we’ve been here 18 or 19 years — there were roughly 6,000 people in Shiloh. Now it has more than doubled.”
O’Fallon Mayor Herb Roach says he has heard complaints about the construction from residents, though he believes traffic will improve.
“It’s been quite a turmoil for a lot of people who have to go through there on a regular basis,” Roach said. “We totally understand that. We think on the long run they’re going to have a much better flow.”
Even when there’s traffic backups, it just doesn’t take that long to get through there. People who live in more densely populated areas deal with more than what we bear around here.
Paul Hertel, Belleville resident
Hospital officials are expecting traffic to run smoothly after opening, says hospital spokeswoman Kelly Barbeau.
“We’re expecting a normal flow of traffic,” Barbeau said. “But we will continue to work with the city and see what projects they are working on. We’re looking forward to being open and seeing how the traffic flows, and then we’ll go from there.”
The new 144-bed, $253 million hospital will replace the 60-year-old, 303-bed Belleville facility. The new hospital brings roughly 1,000 jobs with it, according to the hospital spokeswoman.
Not everyone is worried about traffic near the new hospital, however. Belleville resident Paul Hertel, who uses the road to drive to I-64, just doesn’t think traffic on North Green Mount Road is all that bad. He and his wife moved to the area in 1994, and he says he’s seen development grow.
“I can see where people put out some angst saying city officials should have thought ahead and realized there was going to be so much development,” Hertel said. “But quite honestly, even when there’s traffic backups, it just doesn’t take that long to get through there. People who live in more densely populated areas deal with more than what we bear around here.”