Main Street one-way for one block, three turns eliminated

After more than two months of discussions, the Vandalia City Council has approved an agreement for several traffic flow changes designed to improve safety at two of the city’s downtown rail crossings.
The council OK’d on Monday an agreement presented by the Illinois Commerce Commission following negotiations between the two parties after the ICC first submitted wide-sweeping changes at the Fifth and Sixth street crossings at the end of January.
The ICC, along with the Illinois Department of Transportation, initially proposed the closure of Main Street to Fifth Street and reducing traffic flow to one direction on both Fifth and Sixth streets downtown.
That proposal was drafted in reaction to a car-train accident shortly before the start of last year’s Halloween parade. That accident, at Sixth Street, resulted in the deaths of four members of a Greenville family.
The agreement approved by both the city and ICC includes:
• One-way traffic only, eastbound, on Main Street from Sixth Street to Fifth Street.
• No left or right turns for northbound traffic at Sixth Street.
• No right turns for southbound traffic at Fifth Street before the crossing.
• No left turns for northbound traffic at Fifth Street after the crossing.
• Removal of the crossing arm just north of Main Street on Sixth Street, to be replaced with a new, state-of-the-art crossing arm on the south side of Main Street.
• The installation of the three other crossing arms at the two intersections with state-of-the-art equipment.
Rodney Potts of John Crawford and Associates, the city’s consulting engineers, presented the final plan to the council on Monday night, saying that CSX Railroad will contribute more than $600,000 to the project for the new crossing arms.
The cost for new signage, painting of road surfaces and traffic channeling structures at Sixth and Main streets will cost close to $53,000, and the ICC will pay almost $52,000 of that total.
The city is being required to pay for the painting of traffic markings on road surfaces at the two intersections, estimated to cost about $1,000.
Also at Monday’s meeting, the council approved a license for a taxi business in Vandalia.
John Hankins of Litchfield, who is currently running a taxi business, plans to do the same in Vandalia, using drivers who are based in this community.
In other action, the council agreed to have Slow-Children Playing signs placed on Sunset Drive between Jefferson and Fillmore streets.
While that action, proposed by Ward IV Alderman B. John Clark, passed without opposition, Ward III Alderman Mike Hobler questioned the practice.
After outgoing Ward I Alderman Neil Clark also talked about putting up similar signs on South Sixth Street, Hobler said, “Are we going to put those in every neighborhood? We can’t post everything everywhere.
“It’s up to drivers’ responsibility (to pay attention while driving),” he said.
Also on Monday:
• Mayor Rick Gottman announced that O’Reilly Auto Parts had broken ground for a store on the property just west of Los Amigos Restaurant, and that Red Door Restaurant, located in the former Eakin Hotel and First Baptist Apartments building, opened for business on Monday.
• Neil Clark reported that Vandalia native Laura Veesart had donated $1,000 for South Hill Cemetery in memory of her father, Vandalia native James E. Mitchell. Vessart said that her grandfather, great-grandparents and great-uncle are buried in South Hill.
• Gottman reported that he and members of the council’s insurance and personnel committee will soon begin reviewing the applications of individuals seeking the city administrator position.

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