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Woodstock D-200 students propose solution to 'dangerous' intersection at Madison, Calhoun streets

Woodstock City Council meets during a scheduled public meeting on Tuesday, May 7, 2019 in Woodstock.
Woodstock City Council meets during a scheduled public meeting on Tuesday, May 7, 2019 in Woodstock.

The Woodstock City Council met Tuesday to hear from Woodstock School District 200 students who have come up with an idea to reduce crashes at an intersection near the downtown area.

Two teams of high schoolers worked with the city’s Transportation Commission as part of a capstone engineering design and development course to address problems that Woodstock residents face on a regular basis.

One group presented a solution that could help reduce crashes at South Madison and East Calhoun streets near the railroad.

Woodstock students on that team included Ethan Patterson, Andrew Tillman, Kyle Troy, Devin Fox and Jackson Shumacher.

The railway that runs across East Calhoun Street is on a hill, which leads to low visibility for drivers. The intersection is at the bottom of the hill and contains a three-way stop, and drivers traveling west over the railway have the right of way and don’t need to stop.

The steep grade prevents drivers at the three-way stop from seeing whether a vehicle is traveling west over the hill toward the intersection.

There have been 45 crashes resulting in four injuries and 37 reports of property damage at the intersection over a five-year period, according to data provided by the city.

A possible way to solve those problems is to install two signs at the intersection, angled so that drivers from each way can see them. The signs would flash lights when a vehicle was coming over the hill.

This would be accomplished using an induction loop system which uses an electric magnet to detect metal. Once metal is detected, the magnet would send an electric signal to the circuit which then would trigger the flashing lights. The signs would be solar-powered under the students’ plan.

The students also proposed a “dangerous intersection” sign so drivers without a stop sign know to slow down in case someone is going through the intersection.

The estimated project cost is $23,630, which doesn’t include construction.

Council members said they were impressed with the plan.

“It blows me away what you guys are coming up with,” council member Darrin Flynn said. “I hope it comes to fruition.”

And it just might.

“I think we should take a look at this,” said council member Mike Turner. “I really do.”

The other team offered a solution to clogged storm sewer drains throughout Woodstock, which involved installing permeable concrete.

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