MAHOMET - Village officials believe one of the community's biggest traffic bottlenecks will be relieved this summer as work crews make improvements to State Street.
A combination of increased population in the village and increased enrollment at nearby Lincoln Trail Elementary School, Mahomet-Seymour Junior High School and Mahomet-Seymour High School have meant frequent traffic jams on State Street.
Traffic counts conducted by the Illinois Department of Transportation show that traffic on State Street between Crowley Road and Division Street has increased between 6 percent and 9 percent each year since 1981. Average traffic growth throughout the entire community increased at about 1.5 percent per year for that same period.
"The situation is a mess, especially between 7:45 and 8:15 a.m.," said Lincoln Trail Principal Lee Jessup. "If one of my staff members has a meeting at the high school, which is only a block away, it often takes them 10 minutes to get there."
David Smith of Champaign was stuck in traffic on State Street Thursday morning.
"Sometimes it can be frustrating for me waiting for the cars ahead of me to move," Smith said.
A traffic study conducted in April 2000 by the village's consulting engineers, Berns, Clancy and Associates, found the average delay for vehicles during peak traffic is nearly four minutes.
Village Administrator Teri Legner said Mahomet began planning traffic improvements on State Street six years ago, but the project was delayed because the village had to divert transportation money to the improvements on Illinois 47.
The village sold $300,000 in general obligation bonds in 1998 to pay for traffic improvements. Since then, the village board added money from general revenue funds to raise the $450,000 needed to complete the State Street project. Duce Construction, Champaign, will serve as contractor for the project for $357,446. The rest of the cost is in engineering and right-of-way acquisition.
Plans call for widening Division and State streets and adding turning lanes in all directions at the intersection.
Legner said that on May 16, the village spent $13,000 to acquire the last piece of right-of-way needed for the improvements, and work should begin in two weeks.
The project will also include installing new sidewalks on State Street from Maywood Drive to Crowley Road.
Last year, an Eagle Scout, Jeremy Hunter, built new sidewalks along a portion of State Street, leaving a void between Maywood and Crowley.
After Duce Construction installs the final section of sidewalks, the village will have sidewalks all the way from central Mahomet to the high school.
Jessup said he believes the traffic work will be welcomed by his staff and the families who travel down State Street for school and athletic events.
"I think any improvement down there will be something positive for the community," Jessup said.
You can reach Tim Mitchell at (217) 351-5366 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .