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Aurora proposes two-way travel plan for Downer/Benton

Updated: September 9, 2012 6:16AM

AURORA — City officials presented plans that will bring one-way stretches of Downer Place and Benton Street closer to becoming two-way streets downtown.

At a Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday night, city traffic engineer Eric Gallt presented a proposed $99,402 engineering contract with HR Green to plan the Downer/Benton two-way conversion.

Under the plan, Downer Place and Benton Street would be converted from one-way streets to two-ways between Locust Street and Broadway Avenue. Both streets are currently designated one-way streets between State Street on the East Side and Locust/Woodlawn.

The two-way project, which would modify six traffic signals downtown and require striping two miles of roadway, would cost about $250,000 to $300,000, he said.

Two traffic signals at Downer Place and Stolp Avenue and at Benton Street and Stolp Avenue would be converted into all-way stop signs.

Gallt said now is an “optimum time” to convert the streets to two-ways. City Chief Development Officer Bill Wiet said the city plans to have the two-way conversion completed as the Downer Place bridge project is completed in November.

Right now Benton Street is a two-way with the bridges out, and people haven’t been driving on Downer for months because of the bridge construction, Gallt said.

The two-way conversion and stop signs at Downer/Benton and Stolp would save the city money. Gallt said the antiquated traffic signals at the Stolp intersections need to be replaced and that the cost of traffic signal replacement would exceed the cost of the two-way conversion.

City officials have discussed the conversion project with the Illinois Department of Transportation because Downer and Benton intersect with Lake and River streets, both state routes.

“(The state) really can’t object to what we do with our roads. They can make it not cost feasible, but we’ve worked through most of the concerns with that,” Gallt said.

The city plans to add one or two loading zones on Downer in conjunction with the two-way conversion.

Gallt said about two-thirds of the of the design contract’s cost is because of state-mandated intersection studies that must be completed before the streets are converted.

The city’s Finance Committee approved the engineering contract Tuesday afternoon. Aldermen will vote on the proposed contract at City Council next week.

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