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Town of Normal hosts open house to display Vernon Avenue 'road diet'

Here's what Vernon Avenue may look like with its lanes reduced to three; one in each direction, and a center turn lane.
Jack Podlesnik
Here's what Vernon Avenue might look like with its lanes reduced to three, one in both directions, and a center turn lane.

The Town of Normal is considering reducing the number of lanes on Vernon Avenue from four to three. An open house was held Thursday evening at Uptown Station to show the plan to the public.

Reducing a four-lane road to two or three lanes is sometimes called a "road diet." The stretch of road in question is a two-mile section east from Beaufort Street to Towanda Avenue. Along the way, the road passes busy intersections such as Linden Street and Grandview Drive, and popular crosswalks connecting sections of the Constitution Trail.

It also passes the Illinois Art Station and Colene Hoose Elementary School.

Under the plan, there would be one lane going in both directions, with a center turn lane. There also would be bike lanes on both sides of the road.

Cindy Loos is a senior project manager for Hanson Professional Services that is heading up the project. At the open house, Loos gave a look of what the path looks like moving forward.

“We’re going to put together some cost estimates for the town, and figure out feedback from this, meet again to come up with the final options and then it will go to the council,” said Loos.

It’s possible the reduction to three lanes isn’t the final product.

Karen Farr, a lifetime Normal resident who attended the open house, said it’s something she could do without.

“I personally think it would be fine just leaving it at four lanes, but just putting some modifications in for the crosswalk over at Colene Hoose, something to let people know there are children crossing,” said Farr, who also expressed concern about a planned stop-and-go light at Grandview Drive.

“With three lanes, I think a four-way stop should be sufficient,” said Farr. “Really, a stop-and-go light would only be necessary at those busy times, at the end of the day when people are getting out of work or when school is getting out.”

She’s also worried about people living directly on Vernon Avenue who have to back out of their driveways onto the road, and suggested the town offer to alter driveways for those people, so they can get turned around in their driveways and pull onto Vernon moving forward.

Farr said while she has some mixed views on the plans, she feels her opinion, and the opinions of her fellow Normal residents, is being heard.

“So, some good things and some things are just change," she said. "Anything that’s changing always takes a little bit of time to get used to. But it’s interesting and I’m glad the town is having people come and participate and be able to look at it and give opinions. And I feel like we’re definitely being valued in giving our opinions and helping to decide what can be done, and what can make it better.”

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Jack Podlesnik is a student reporter and announcer at WGLT. He joined the station in 2021.
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