Members of the Stoplight Campaign, pictured from left: Deborah LaFreniere, Julie Spengler, Millie Erb, and Sandy Hildebrandt (Submitted Photo)
By Annabelle Knef
O’FALLON – Four O’Fallon residents have started a campaign for a traffic control device to be installed at what they describe as the “dangerous” intersection of Scott-Troy Road, Old Vincennes Trail and Borchers Lane.
Representatives spearheading the “Stoplight Campaign” include Deborah LaFreniere, Julie Spengler, Millie Erb and Sandy Hildebrandt.
Spengler started an online petition in August as part of the group’s goals of achieving change.
The goals of the petition are to: Reduce probability of loss or damage to the lives and property of the thousands of persons that rely on Scott-Troy Road as a travel route and to provide safer entrance and exit at this congested location that affects traffic in four directions and increase efficiency of traffic by providing obvious, signal-managed flow.
“This is a signal light that has to happen,” Hildebrandt said.
The intersection of Scott-Troy Road, Old Vincennes Trail and Borchers Lane is zoned with the county, as opposed to the township.
On Monday, August 27, the campaign representatives approached the O’Fallon Public Works Committee requesting guidance on how they should proceed with St. Clair County to get a traffic control device. Alderman Mathew Gilreath made a motion for a resolution recommending the county take action.
O’Fallon Mayor Herb Roach told the Weekly that on behalf of these four residents, he hopes that something develops out of the intersection issue.
“That was an area in my ward when I was an alderman,” Roach said.
Roach said that the county will have to approve a traffic control device to be installed in the intersection but that the township and city council have spoken “favorably” in the past about helping with the situation.
“I’m hoping that we would have the three governments go together to come up with some plan – whether its a stop light, a caution light or turn lanes for the people to get on and off,” he said. “The timing is good because the county is going to be resurfacing that road out there.”
“I hope we can do something to help them out there before somebody seriously gets hurt,” Roach continued.
Roach said that there are a number of things that could be put into place to help traffic at the intersection.
“Even something as simple as a flashing yellow light out there would slow people down,” Roach said. “The traffic on that road is not going to get any less – with the developments along there that are expanding and then the expansion that’s going to be taking place up near Route 50 and the expansion of the Rec Plex – all of that has the potential of adding a lot more traffic to the road.”
Through a Freedom of Information Act request, The Weekly obtained accident reports for the intersection of Scott-Troy Road, Old Vincennes Trail and Borchers Lane from the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department from over the past five years.
The St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s Office responded with nine accident reports that took place between January of 2014 and August of 2018. Three of the nine accident reports were traffic related incidents, where a driver pulled out onto Scott-Troy Road from Old Vincennes and it resulted in an accident.
An accident reported in December of 2017 stated that a driver “did not see the vehicle in the northbound lane and pulled in the north bound lane of traffic.”
Another three of the accidents at that intersection were rear-end collisions at the stop sign at Old Vincennes Trail, where a car thought the driver ahead of them was going to turn and didn’t stop.
In an accident report from March 2014, a driver rear-ended another driver who was attempting to make a left turn onto Scott-Troy Road. “Driver of Unit 1 said he didn’t not pay attention and thought Unit 2 was going to pull out onto Scott-Troy Road, but he struck Unit 2 in the rear,” the report read.
One accident was caused when a driver reportedly looked at his phone and struck a pedestrian on his bicycle. Another accident was caused when a driver struck a deer. The final accident reported at the intersection was caused when a driver on Old Vincennes Trail couldn’t stop due to snow on the road and was struck by a car on Scott-Troy Road.
When asked for any accident reports at that intersection, to make sure none were missed when compiling them for this report, the O’Fallon Police Department said since its a county road they have no reports and referred The Weekly to the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department.
At an O’Fallon Township meeting held on September 5, Spotlight Campaign representatives spoke to trustees about gaining their support in favor of a traffic control device.
Campaign representative LaFreniere said to the township officials that what the campaign representatives would like to see are improvements being done to improve safety.
“We are here to solicit your support,” LaFreniere said.
O’Fallon Township Highway Commissioner Mark Downs said that he doesn’t have the jurisdiction over the intersection.
“I’m not a player in this but I always did support it. I don’t have any problems with what you’re asking for. Until St. Clair County jumps on board with this, I don’t see any movement,” Downs said.
The O’Fallon Township pledged their support to the campaign representatives with a letter signed by Township Supervisor Gary Ahle and all of the trustees.
St. Clair County Engineer Norm Etling responded to a request for comment by the Weekly by stating that the department has not received written communication from campaign representatives.
“We will be happy to review whatever they would like to submit,” Etling said.
Follow-up requests for comment on the county’s stance on a potential intersection stoplight installation have not been returned.
Campaign representative Hildebrandt said that the Stoplight Campaign plans on approaching the St. Clair Transportation Committee in October.
To find out more information about updates on the intersection and campaign, follow @SpotlightCampaign on Facebook.