• Emily Plummer

I-80 Safety Conference Held at USF

As winter storms continue to wreak havoc in the Midwest, driving conditions are increasingly dangerous, especially on the expressway. With the influx of snow and freezing rain recently, drivers have found themselves stuck in ditches on the side of the road and sitting in traffic for hours on I-80. But most severely, on January 5, Angela Dominguez was fatally struck by a box truck in a crash near Minooka.

The sad truth is that fatalities like this are at an all-time high in Will County, regardless of weather conditions. Commuters are consistently stuck in traffic backups, and are driving on roads in dire need for repairs. Could this be the cause of growing rate of fatalities along Interstate 80?

Radio station, WJOL, and RUSH (Residents United for Safer Highways) hosted an open forum to discuss this matter in an event held at the University of St. Francis. The event which was livestreamed, drew in over 150 community members.

All were in agreeance that the infrastructure on the interstate needs repairs, particularly along the narrow bridges where accidents commonly occur. These cramped two-lane roads are heavily traveled by semi-trucks due the abundance of warehouses within the Joliet area. Several politicians, along with Illinois State Police and IDOT members joined in the forum during the meeting.

This has a direct impact on University of St. Francis students and faculty, who travel on these expressways every day. As of 2017, 72 percent of undergraduate students at the university are commuters. Students who drive on I-80 are risking more than they might expect because of these unsafe conditions.

All these issues raise the question: “How do we make these roads safer, and more efficient?” There is no final solution but questions have been raised about expanding the roads, setting up construction signs to caution drivers and creating alternate trucking routes. Since 2001 there have been 37 people killed in crashes on I-80, making a change crucial. Although a resolution may not be immediate, citizens of the community will not rest until actions are taken to make the interstate safer.

(All information was retrieved from WJOL’s Facebook livestream)

@usf_encounter tweets: