#Mailbag by Tom, November 26, 2021 | Tom’s Mailbag


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I’m grateful to Kris Koester of the Champaign Public Works Department for answering a bunch of questions this week and helping the Mailbag during a short week on the job.

But we also have answers to questions about the new Rantoul sports complex, the decrease in Veo bikes in town, the slow recovery in MTD traffic and Chevy Chase Drive in Champaign.

A softball team gathers in a dugout on Friday for the first day of operations at the Rantoul Family Sports Complex.

Rantoul sports complex

“Is it too early to judge the economic impact of the new sports complex on Rantoul and the surrounding communities? And what impact will the proposed sports complex in Mattoon have in the future?”

“We are very satisfied with the increase in traffic in our restaurants, retail stores and specialty businesses. In fact, since the resort opened, we’ve seen a 25% growth in sales throughout our village and discussions with other county municipal leaders, they too have seen an increase in the number of visitors to their communities ” said Rantoul village administrator Scott Eisenhauer. “With next year’s schedule already including additional events, we expect these numbers to increase.

“We are also excited about the additional amenities coming to Rantoul next year with a new hotel, new food and beverage businesses and other specialty stores opening or expanding in the community. This too will add to our future economic impact.

“As with other sports complexes, our goal is to ensure that we provide the best experience for those who come to Rantoul, continuing to listen and adapt to feedback, and to build lasting relationships with organizations and teams. sports, as well as non-sports organizations, all of which will help us grow in the future, regardless of other existing facilities. “

Eisenhauer attached sales tax distribution figures from the Illinois Department of Revenue which showed a 30% increase in state sales tax revenue to Rantoul ($ 1.67 million over in fiscal year 2021 compared to $ 1.54 in fiscal year 2020). There was also a 30.77 percent increase in Rantoul home sales tax revenue year over year.

Even with the impact of COVID, Eisenhauer said sales tax collections for fiscal 2021 were the best in the village “for at least 10 years.”

Véo Bikes

“Before the pandemic, I saw a lot of turquoise rental bikes in town. Today, despite the return to a somewhat normal semester, I hardly see any more. What happened?”

The number of Veo bikes around Champaign-Urbana and the University of Illinois has been reduced, said Alex Keating, director of public policy and partnerships for the company.

“As things opened up from the COVID-19 pandemic this year, Veo’s summer and fall ridership figures in the market were excellent and we made our full deployment available to users.” , Keating said. “However, we have reduced our fleet as the colder months approach as part of our standard wintering planning. As such, fewer bikes are in circulation right now. We will operate with a reduced fleet throughout the winter and return to full deployment as early as the spring. “

MTD passenger

A passenger boards a Champaign-Urbana transit district bus at the First Street and St. Mary’s Road stop near the State Farm Center in Champaign.

MTD traffic

“Has MTD’s ridership recovered since the University and public schools are now fully operational?” Does MTD offer the same level of service as two years ago or has it been reduced?

“Not recovered, but cured,” MTD CEO Karl Gnadt said. “Last year, in October, our ridership was down 74% from 2019. Last month, we were still down 39% from 2019. There are still lingering effects of the pandemic, but on top of that, we are also currently struggling with an employee shortage.

“Due to the shortage, our service is about 18% less than it was before the pandemic. We are trying to train as many new employees as quickly as possible, without sacrificing any of our excellent security measures, and it takes time. time.”

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Chevy Chase Drive

“I recently came across a street called Chevy Chase Drive in Champaign. In the spirit of the “Christmas Holidays”, do you know if there is a story behind the name of the street? “

Subdivision developers choose most of the local street names, unless there is a continuation of a street from one subdivision to another, said Bruce Knight, director of planning and development for Champaign.

“The Chevy Chase Drive area developed in the early 1950s, so I think we can definitely say it wasn’t named after the actor,” Knight said. “Having said that, we have no record of who or what he was named.”

There is a Chevy Chase, Maryland, just across the border from Washington, DC, as well as other Chevy Chase designations in the county (a neighborhood in Lexington, Ky., Country clubs in Wheeling, IL, and Glendale, CA).

Historically, the term is believed to derive “from the French word ‘chevauchee’ used in medieval Scotland and England to describe horseback raids carried out in the ancient border regions between the two countries,” said a webpage of the Chevy Chase (MD) Historical Society.

“Or since the Cheviot Hills run along the middle of the border country, which was partly cultivated, and the” chases “of the hills (open hunting grounds reserved for the use of their owners) were areas of hiding and hunting Popular for both sides, perhaps “Cheviot” and “chase” were combined to create the name “Chevy Chase,” the historical company explanation said.

In any case, everything predates the actor born in 1943.

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Big champagne pipes

“What big pipes are laying under the sidewalks in Harrington, west of Prospect Avenue?” “

“This is work for the 2022 Urbana & Champaign sanitary district sewer and manhole rehabilitation project,” said Kris Koester, spokesperson for the Champaign public works department. “The work consists of covering the manholes and the sewers. Ground pipelines must bypass and pump sewage during manhole and sewer repairs. This project should be completed within a few weeks.

No stop signs

“Why are stop signs not displayed at certain intersections in the town of Champaign, for example, Cedar Street and Grandview Drive (next to the Hessel Park playground) while very similar intersections (Birch Street and Grandview Drive just north) have stop signs? So the Illinois Uniform Traffic Control Device Handbook may not require stop signs or yield on side streets, wouldn’t it be safer to have them by default? ?

“As mentioned in the question, stop signs are not required at T-intersections by the MUTCD. The practice in many communities, including Champaign, is not to install them at typical T-intersections,” said Koester. “In the example given, neither Cedar nor Birch have stops and are typical T-intersections (while Elm and Hamilton posted stops).

“Buena Vista also has a stop sign but has a somewhat odd geometry with the way the two streets intersect, which is probably why a stop was installed there.

“Systematically installing stop signs at all T-intersections in the city would be a business requiring one-time funding and the commitment of the necessary staff resources (there is currently one signage worker for the entire city). It is municipal practice to consider installing stop signs. at T-intersections when receiving requests based on safety concerns.

“Using the example provided, the city would consider stopping at T-intersections leading to Grandview due to the presence of park space.”

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“Painted squares”

“I’m curious about what the painted squares are in different streets of the city and in the countryside. My photo is an example of that on John Street across from Hopscotch Bakery.”

These squares are just adhesive marks from an old traffic count, Koester said.

“Each year, the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission collects counts along various streets for inclusion on the IDOT Average Daily Traffic Map (link below). One type of meter is a map meter and he is ‘taped’ to the sidewalk for a week to collect traffic counts, ”Koester explained.

Here is the link to the IDOT traffic map.

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No sidewalks

“I have a sidewalk question in my neighborhood that I was hoping you could answer. This is John Street, which has sidewalks as far as the eye can see until you reach Russell heading west. Then all of a sudden the sidewalks stop. Combined with poor lighting which makes walking very dangerous at night along John Street basically until you reach Mattis Avenue. What can be done to install sidewalks? “

Koester correctly noted that there are sidewalks on both sides of John Street, from West Russell to Kenwood Road.

But the person who wrote the question is correct that a block north, for example, on Green Street, there are no sidewalks west of Russell.

“Typically, the city has an annual amount of $ 100,000 for the design and construction of sidewalks. This funding is intended to fill short (about a city block) of sidewalks, ”said Koester. Recent examples include a section along the south side of Bloomington at the northwest corner of the intersection with Hagan and on Bradley Avenue from the northeast corner of Mattis to the east on one or two properties.

“A section as large as the reader mentioned above would be too large to fit into this budget. -path and impacts on existing landscaping, mature trees or fences.

“While all of these elements can be overcome, they each require a detailed design assessment and require further infrastructure improvements to accommodate the new sidewalk, resulting in a higher cost project. “

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Kirby & Duncan traffic lights

“A few weeks ago the stop lights at Kirby and Duncan stopped working during an early morning thunderstorm. Since then the underground sensors have not been activated and cars have been sitting at this intersection waiting for long lights for no reason. The turn arrows are used each transition, regardless of whether there is a car present or not. The length of the lights themselves seem longer as well. “

“This signal was struck by the lighting and suffered damage to several components inside this traffic sign cabinet,” Koester said. “We are working to get the signal back to working order. It is not an easy fix and it will take some time.”


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