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Drivers in construction zone may get tickets

A construction crew from Fischer Excavating, Freeport, digs a trench Friday for new sewer mains on West Dixon Street. Photo by Vinde Wells
A construction crew from Fischer Excavating, Freeport, digs a trench Friday for new sewer mains on West Dixon Street. Photo by Vinde Wells

Unauthorized drivers who travel through the construction zone on West Dixon Street may find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

Police Chief Kurt Cavanaugh said Monday night that anyone besides residents of the street who drive through the well-marked construction zone can be ticketed.

“They are disobeying traffic signs,” he said.

The cars speeding through the zone brought a West Dixon Street resident to Monday’s Polo City Council meeting.

“The problem is that the cars are going through there instead of using the detour,” said Dave Spaine. “Weekends are the worst.”

Although West Dixon is closed to through traffic from Ill. 26 almost to Lincoln Street, Spaine said plenty of drivers are ignoring the signs and barricades and are driving through the construction zone anyway — often at speeds much faster than the legal limit of 30 mph.

“I feel sorry for the construction guys — when a car speeds through there they get covered with dust,” he said. “I’m concerned about the kids walking to school, too, the way some of them [vehicles] go through there.”

The recent dry weather has made the dust problem even worse, Spaine said.

“It gets all over you, it gets in your house,” he said.

For several weeks, the area has been under construction while Fischer Excavating, of Freeport, replaces sewer and water mains.

The construction zone is clearly marked at each end with a series of signs.

At the east end the signs read, “Road Construction Ahead,” “Road Closed Ahead,” and finally “Road Closed to Through Traffic.”

At the west end, the signs warn, ““Road Closed to Through Traffic” and “Road Closed Ahead.”

In addition, large orange detour signs clearly mark the route that directs traffic around the construction site.

From Ill. 26 the detour goes west on Wilson Street to Lincoln Street and then back to West Dixon (Milledgeville Road) near the city limits.

Spaine suggested reducing the speed limit in the construction zone to
10 mph.

Alderman Randy Schoon, who lives on West Dixon, asked if the street could be completely closed instead of leaving a lane open for emergency vehicles and residents of the street.

Police Chief Kurt Cavanaugh said the street must remain partially open for emergency vehicles. He said the speed limit is set by state statute and must remain at 30 mph.

Cavanaugh said he will station officers at the construction zone to monitor traffic and write tickets when warranted.

On the bright side, Schoon, who heads up the Water & Sewer Committee, said the project is on schedule and should be wrapped up by Thanksgiving.

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