City of Jacksonville Looking At Adding 4-Way Stop at College & Park

By Benjamin Cox on April 13, 2023 at 6:14am

The City of Jacksonville will be making a decision later this month on what to do with a dangerous intersection. The City’s Planning & Public Works committee passed a recommendation to place a four-way stop at the intersection of West College & Park Street after a number of car crashes and near misses at that location has drawn the ire of neighbors and pedestrians.

The intersection has been the focus of concern for several months after at least two notable car crashes occurred there over that time frame. Homeowner Skyler McGee brought concerns to the Jacksonville City Council several weeks ago about low visibility, concerns about children and pedestrians in the area, and the increase in near-miss collisions.

Illinois College’s student body and administration also has asked the city to step up and make a change in the area. Illinois College President Dr. Barbara Farley spoke to the city council earlier this month, bringing a letter from the school’s administration recommending a four-way stop be placed at the intersection. Farley says it has been a top concern at the school for some time: “Illinois College is very, very concerned about public safety and the safety of individuals, vehicles, and pedestrians in the intersection. There are other opportunities of adding no parking on the street, of having flashing lights, and of slowing down the traffic. All of those things have merit, and in some combination with a four-way stop could be very, very effective. We know from students that this is something high on their list of concerns and so we are standing behind a recommendation, a strong recommendation for a four-way stop.”

Dr. Farley says it is one of the biggest complaints that the I.C. Student Senate receives each year. Jacksonville Police Chief Adam Mefford says he’s aware of the danger at that intersection and has done his best to step up enforcement of parking and traffic in the area.

However, he says visibility is the number one problem at the intersection, with motorists and pedestrians having difficulty seeing oncoming traffic in all directions at times. Mefford gave the Jacksonville City Council several options earlier this month in a presentation on how to create changes to increase safety and decrease problems. Mefford says the city has a number of options like including the extension of no parking on both streets, placing an intersection blinking light sign and solar powered speed sign, or creating the four-way stop.

Mefford says that all of those options don’t necessarily mean that anyone will abide by the traffic rules: “I would support anything that the city council comes up with, or if they ask my input, to make that intersection as safe as possible. If it’s flashing lights, if it’s a neon intersection…whatever we need to do to ensure the safety of our citizens, I’m willing back up. One thing to remember, too, is you could throw a stop sign up there and make it a four-way intersection and that would be a big step, but here’s the thing, we have to remember that a stop sign is just a recommendation to stop. It doesn’t mean that everyone is going to heed to that. The intersection needs more than just throwing up a stop sign there and saying we’ve solved the problem. That stop sign may given those pedestrians a false sense of security when crossing that street in the anticipation that everyone is always going to stop there. If you drive around for any amount of time, you can find that it’s not always the case. Distracted driving is one of the components that cause that issue.”

The four-way stop recommendation is expected to land on the Jacksonville City Council’s agenda at the next city council meeting coming up in two weeks.