Normal Road speed limit reduced

By D. Richard Roth

In response to a petition signed by nearly 1,500 NIU students citing safety concerns, the DeKalb City Council lowered the speed limit on Normal Road.

The 30 mile-per-hour speed limit on Normal Road subsequently will be reduced to 20 miles per hour, said Ralph Tompkins, DeKalb assistant director of Public Works. The reduced speed zone will affect Normal Road from Lucinda Avenue to West Lincoln Highway.

With many NIU students, faculty and staff alleging safety deficiencies, Normal Road has been a topic of discussion in the city council for some time.

“At the regular city council meeting of Jan. 25, the city council heard a staff report outlining the safety concerns of pedestrians who regularly cross Normal Road between Lincoln Highway and Lucinda Avenue,” said DeKalb City Manager Bill Nicklas.

In response to the petition, the city council directed city staff to identify further safety precautions and measures which could be implemented along Normal Road, he said.

Consequently, the staff offered several solutions to the safety concerns including a reduction in the speed limit, installation of advance warning signs and the creation of speed bumps to give motorists advance notice of pedestrian crossing areas, Nicklas said.

While several city council members, as well as DeKalb Mayor Greg Sparrow, voiced favoritism toward implementation of physical improvement such as speed bumps, this option turned out to be irrelevant as a result of the recent rash of construction.

“Because of the Lucinda Avenue/Normal Road improvements now in progress and yet to begin and the resulting confusion of construction signs and heavy vehicular traffic, it is necessary to temporarily defer any experimental or permanent physical improvements which might urge greater motorist caution,” Nicklas said.

Forced to either lower the speed limit or leave the situation in its current state, the city council chose the former.

“Normal Road from approximately the library north to Lucinda Avenue will be under heavy construction for the next several months,” Tompkins said. “Any improvements would undoubtedly be altered, moved or destroyed during this reconstruction.”

While the council unanimously voiced concern for the safety of pedestrians crossing Normal Road, a consensus could not be reached as to what the best means were to achieve this goal.

“I would like to see the proper speed limit on Normal Road, not just now, but even after all of the construction around the university is completed,” said 2nd Ward Alderman Michael Welsh.

Welsh asked other council members if they would consider reducing the speed limit to 25 miles per hour instead of 20 miles per hour, in lieu of similar speed zones of 25 miles per hour near area schools.

However, Welsh’s motion failed to gain a single vote from the council.

Ultimately, the council voted unanimously to reduce the speed limit on Normal Road from 30 miles per hour to 20 miles per hour.

“This is clearly just a start. Normal Road has been a messy road for many years,” said 7th Ward Alderman Jordan Kagan. “We should also wait until after all the construction is completed on Normal Road before we start considering any of the other suggestions.”