Illinois state senator asks IDOT for review of deadly section of I-55

MADISON COUNTY, Ill. - Illinois State Sen. Andy Manar (D - Bunker Hill) is asking IDOT to take a closer look at a stretch of Interstate 55 in Madison County where two deadly chain reaction wrecks happened just weeks apart.

Five lives have been lost in crashes on that stretch of interstate. In each case, the driver of a semi-truck crashed into traffic. In one case there is evidence the driver never hit the brakes.  The truck driver in the other crash told investigators he took his eyes off the road before crashing into the cars in front of him.

Manar said many of his constituents have relayed concerns to him and so he’s asking IDOT to see what can be done.

“The (Illinois) Department of Transportation does their job well.  That’s reflected in safety statistics across the state for many, many years,” said Manar.  “But there’s something clearly wrong with this stretch of highway and I think there needs to be some extraordinary measures to make it safer.”

IDOT released the following statement Wednesday night:

“The Illinois Department of Transportation puts work zone safety as a top priority throughout the year. Part of this effort involves working with multiple partners, including the various trucking associations, to help get out the word that any work zone represents a potentially dangerous situation. We continue to monitor all of our work zones to see if any improvements or safety enhancements can be made during the course of all projects. We urge the public to slow down, avoid all distractions and pay extra attention when approaching and traveling through our work zones.  It`s an important message that cannot be reinforced enough.

"Prior to the first accident, we had placed advanced warning signs 3 miles ahead of the work zone and supplemental message boards (digital signs) enforcing the message that a work zone is ahead and to be alert. Since that first accident, we’ve added additional message boards with more specific messaging and additional rumble strips. We have also coordinated with state police to have additional high-visibility patrols in strategic spots in advance of the work zone, including a focused effort over the next two weekends. We’ve also posted a suggested alternative route for motorists to use Illinois 4 to avoid the work zone altogether.

"A stage change occurred yesterday in this work zone to a crossover pattern (previously, we had one lane open in each direction; now it is all on the northbound side through late spring.)"

Illinois State Police has already beefed up patrols in the area. Manar said some constituents have suggested more warning signs indicating a traffic backup is likely. He said he’s confident IDOT will carefully review all options and come up with any ideas that could make the area safer.