Limited access to North Green Mount Road has some O’Fallon residents frustrated, though officials say the new traffic pattern is safer for drivers on the already busy thoroughfare.
Drivers will soon be prohibited from turning left out of two streets — Aladar Drive and Donna Drive — sending them instead to signalized intersections at Pierce Boulevard or Cambridge Boulevard.
Erin DeVore has lived in the neighborhood affected by the changes for almost four years, and says she will have to take a different route out of her neighborhood. She normally takes Donna Drive to North Green Mount, but will soon take another road — Indian Creek Drive — to the new stoplight at Cambridge Boulevard.
O’Fallon City Engineer Jeff Taylor said the changes will make the intersections safer. With increased traffic from businesses and the new St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, which opens in November, it would only become more difficult to cross four lanes of traffic onto the widened Green Mount Road, Taylor said.
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The road reconstruction plan was approved by the city council in November 2016 after acquiring the road from St. Clair County in the spring. City council members unanimously approved a contract with Baxmeyer Construction, Inc. for just under $3 million. Crews expect to complete the project by Nov. 1, just three days before the hospital’s opening date.
In the area of North Green Mount between Cambridge Boulevard and Regency Park, the intersection with Pierce Boulevard saw the most vehicle crashes, according to data from the O’Fallon Police Department. Eric Van Hook, O’Fallon chief of police and director of public safety, says Pierce is a busier road, which could explain the higher number of crashes there.
In 2017, O’Fallon police have responded to nine crashes on North Green Mount between Cambridge Boulevard and Regency Park. Of those nine crashes, six were at the intersection with Pierce. In 2016, police responded to five crashes in that area of North Green Mount, four of which were at the intersection with Pierce. Crashes were also reported at Donna and Aladar.
DeVore says she hopes the new stoplight will help make the intersection safer, but she’s worried about increased traffic once the hospital opens and also about distracted driving.
“I definitely know traffic will get worse once the hospital does open,” DeVore said. “Police should step up patrolling more. ‘No cell phone zone’ signs don’t work. I’m concerned about both, but I think that they go hand in hand.”
The police chief says his department is aware of the complaints about distracted driving in the area. The department placed signs reminding drivers to stay off their phones.
“It’s something we’re aware of and are trying to keep track of it,” Van Hook said. “The challenge for us is addressing all the traffic concerns we have throughout the community while being attentive to call volumes.”
Van Hook says he thinks the road reconstruction will make the intersections safer.
“Time will tell,” he added. “With the additional traffic volumes with new businesses and when the hospital opens, we’ll be monitoring it to make any recommendations to ensure traffic is moving smoothly.”
It’s still a hassle for residents like Sherry Minchew, who has lived in O’Fallon for more than 50 years and in the neighborhood affected by the changes for more than three. She now drives down other neighborhood roads to access Green Mount. She says the residential roads aren’t made for the traffic.
“There are more stores and restaurants, which is good, but the roads can’t handle the increase in traffic,” Minchew said.
The city engineer says otherwise. Taylor says alternative roads like Indian Creek and Shamrock Drive are the same width as Aladar and Donna, and “will be able to accommodate the additional traffic.”
Though it’s an inconvenience, Minchew said she believes the new lights will make the intersections safer.
“The light on Cambridge helps, but it’s still out of the way,” Minchew said.