Saturday, April 3, 2010

Chicago Department of Transportation to Investigate Traffic Controls at 18th and Ashland

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that the Chicago Department of Transportation is analyzing the traffic control measures used at the intersection of 18th Place and Ashland in the City's Pilsen neighborhood. This analysis is being done in the aftermath of a collision in March when a truck struck a 6-year old boy crossing the street. The article quotes a retired Chicago police officer who saw another child on his bicycle struck at the same intersection last year.

There is no crosswalk across Ashland at 18th Place. The nearest cross walk is up the block at 18th Street. This creates a very dangerous situation when you consider the number of pedestrians and bicyclists that cross Ashland which is 4 lanes at that intersection. Many trucks use Ashland as a connector between the Eisenhower (I-290) on the north and the Stevenson (I-55) on the south so that they can avoid the Dan Ryan (I-90/94).

It is very difficult to show that the City is responsible for a collision such as this because of a dangerous intersection. CDOT claims that there have not been any complaints about the intersection. Legally speaking, you have to show that the City had notice of problems with the intersection and acted "willfully and wantonly" in doing nothing to correct the problem. This is a very difficult legal burden.

The laws in Illinois currently in place provide numerous immunities to municipalities that protect them for lawsuits for failure to provide traffic safety devices. Section 3-104 of the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act provides as follows:

Neither a local public entity nor a public employee is liable under this Act for an injury caused by the failure to initially provide regulatory traffic control devices, stop signs, yield right‑of‑way signs, speed restriction signs, distinctive roadway markings or any other traffic regulating or warning sign, device or marking, signs, overhead lights, traffic separating or restraining devices or barriers.