College and Park Intersection to Become Four-Way Stop

By Jeremy Coumbes on May 24, 2023 at 6:49am

The longest stretch of city street without a traffic stop in Jacksonville is about to change.

Monday night the Jacksonville City Council approved the second reading of an ordinance to install stop signs on West College Avenue at the intersection with Park Street, making the intersection a four-way stop.

The long-debated issue received a heavy push from residents in the area over the last year after several traffic accidents occurred at the intersection.

Residents also cited the increased presence of children crossing the street to get to temporary facilities on the Jacksonville Middle School grounds during ongoing renovation projects of both Washington and Eisenhower elementary schools.

Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard says the intersection of Park and West College has been an issue in the city for years. “We’ve gone back and forth as far as statistics and I think folks feel there are a lot more accidents at that intersection than there is. But I know there have been a lot of close calls as well, and we don’t want any more close calls.

The council felt overwhelmingly that we should place more stop signs east and west on College and make that a four-way stop. We’ve talked about maybe moving parking back a little bit and we may still do that. However, we’ll get those signs in place and they will be blinking signs and we’ll mark it and make sure people are aware that now this is a four-way stop.”

Currently, West College Avenue has no traffic stop for 1.2 miles between the intersection with Diamond Street and Westgate Avenue after Mound Road merges into College near the Illinois School for the Deaf. The next closest stretch is West Walnut between Diamond and Westgate which runs for 1.2 miles.

Ezard says an exact timetable of when the intersection with Park Street will change to the four-way stop, but it will be sooner than later as the city wants to have the summer for residents to get used to the intersection being a four-way stop before students return to both Illinois College and District 117 schools in August.

There might be some growing pains. I know [Police] Chief Mefford has spoken on potential noise pollution issues because now all of a sudden you’re stopping vehicles and then once they stop, they have to start up and go again so there could be a little more noise, but we’ll pay attention to that.

The bottom line is safety first. The residents in that area wanted it and the college wanted it. Their students sometimes felt that it was warranted and not as safe as it should be so we’re going to take that step and we’re going to see how it works and I think it will work out well.”

Flashing stop signs like those installed near Lincoln Elementary School following that facility’s renovations will be installed on College and large crosswalks will be painted on the street to help give motorists who are used to continuous traffic flow plenty of notice that they will need to stop.

In similar but opposite action last night, the city council approved the first reading of a measure to remove stop signs at the intersection of South Clay and Franklin Streets now that Franklin Elementary School and MacMurray College are both closed and those crosswalks are no longer necessary.