Traffic Studies


A new police station on Route 38 is in the works, and a proposed expansion of the DeKalb Public Library would involve closing a portion of North Third Street.

Clearly, each of these projects/proposals if built would impact traffic patterns at their respective locations.

Mac McIntyre brought up the need for a traffic study at the police station site a few months ago so I’ve been doing some research into the requirements as time allows.

Communications with the state Department of Transportation have convinced me that it would likely not be possible for the City of DeKalb to obtain a permit for the police station construction without a traffic study. Indeed, ComEd will have to obtain a permit to dig a hole for a pole before it begins utility work at the site.

Additionally, I just found out that the city approved “administratively” a traffic study, now in progress, for the police station site.

All’s well then, right? NO. My reading of the Municipal Code does not allow for an “administrative” decision on traffic studies. The procedure is for the director of Public Works to make a recommendation and for the city council to vote on the recommendation.

I’ve put the applicable section of Chapter 23, Article 7 after the jump.

[emphases added]

7.12 Traffic Access and Impact Studies
7.12.02 Warrants for Studies
1. A traffic access and/or impact study may be required to be prepared or cause to be prepared by any person submitting a rezoning, special use permit, planned development, subdivision, annexation agreement, building permit or occupancy permit application where, in the opinion of the City Council after receiving a recommendation from the Director of Public Works or his/her designee, the likely resultant development will generate one-hundred (100) or more new peak direction trips to or from the subject property during the adjacent street’s peak hours or the development’s peak hour. This opinion shall be based on the average trip generation rates published by the Institute of Traffic Engineers (ITE) in their most recent trip generation manual or in any locally published traffic and trip generation data report.

In the event that the estimated trips will fall below the one-hundred (100) level, the City Council after receiving a recommendation from the Director of Public Works may still require the preparation of a traffic access and/or impact study if, in their opinion:

a. There exist any current traffic problems in the local area, such as a high accident location, confusing intersection or an intersection in need of a traffic signal;

b. The adjacent street system’s current or projected level of service will be significantly affected;

c. The site’s accesses are in such a location that their proximity to other accesses, drives, intersections, etc. will likely cause significant traffic congestion or hazard potential;

d. There exists other specific problems, deficiencies, neighborhood sensitivities, etc. that may be affected by the proposed development or affect the ability of the development’s traffic to be satisfactorily accommodated.

2. The City Council after receiving a recommendation from Director of Public Works, or his/her designee, may waive the requirement for a traffic access and/or impact study if, in their opinion, there exists a previously conducted study that adequately addresses the traffic concerns of the area, or there exists adequate physical facilities to accommodate the projected level of traffic.

Do you see any room for an administrative decision? It looks to me like city admin are ignoring an ordinance again (see sign violations) and in this case flagrantly usurping council authoritah.

I am awaiting an answer to the question of whether admin intend to follow the ordinance in the case of the library proposal.