State to increase patrols on I-55
Police mapping out Memorial Day effort
By Hal Dardick
Tribune staff reporter
Published May 18, 2007
In a first-of-its-kind effort, Illinois State Police will station troopers every 10 miles between Chicago and St. Louis on Interstate Highway 55 during the Memorial Day weekend.
"Our goal is to see if we can have no fatalities," District 5 Capt. Ken Kaupas said Thursday of the Stay Alive on I-55 project.
He also displayed for the media District 5's new photo-enforcement van, which will be stationed by July 1 along I-55 between Weber Road in Romeoville and a point just south of Interstate Highway 80 in Joliet.
Widening of seven bridges along that stretch of highway started this year as part of a project to add a third lane of traffic in each direction, said Mike Claffey, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Transportation.
IDOT also recently completed reconstruction of the I-80 interchange, said Matt Daeda, an assistant resident engineer for IDOT. His agency hopes to complete the entire widening project, expected to cost about $175 million, by the end of 2008.
A photo-enforcement van has been used by District 1 State Police along the Dan Ryan Expressway, which is undergoing reconstruction. The van clocks the speed of passing motorists. If they are traveling faster than the speed limit, photographs are taken of the vehicle, including its license plate and the driver.
Citations, which carry a minimum $375 fine, and the photographs are mailed to the vehicle's owner, Kaupas said. A second work-zone speeding violation carries a minimum $1,000 fine and 90-day license suspension.
The photo-enforcement van will only be used when workers are present, Kaupas said. Troopers also will conduct regular patrols in construction sites, in which speed limits would be lowered by 10 m.p.h.
In some cases, the lower speed limits will apply only when workers are present. In others, the lower speed limits will apply around the clock. "My goal is to get the people through the work zone safely," Kaupas said. Last year, 26 people, including one construction worker, died in work-zone accidents in Illinois, according to IDOT.