Kenosha resident David Palos has turned to extreme measures — trying just about anything short of tossing bricks — in an effort to slow down re-routed traffic through his southside neighborhood.
“They’re driving like maniacs,” Palos said. “I’ve yelled at people, given them the (middle finger). ... There’s kids all over this neighborhood. They need to slow down.”
Palos, 54, is one of many frustrated residents living near 22nd Avenue and 80th Street, a major intersection shut down due to ongoing road construction.
Southbound traffic on 22nd Avenue is rerouted west on 79th Street and south on 23rd Avenue to 80th Street. Eastbound traffic on 80th Street stops at 23rd Avenue, where it’s re-routed north.
When the city placed a temporary, four-way stop at the intersection at 79th Street and 23rd Avenue, drivers began turning west on 78th Street and zig-zagging through the neighborhood.
Ald. Curt Wilson said he’s received around 17 to 18 phone calls from concerned residents.
“At the very beginning, drivers were just blowing the stop sign at 23rd Avenue,” Wilson said. “I don’t know if they’re driving like that because they’re upset or frustrated about having to angle their way to 80th Street. People are disregarding all of the precautions and driving too darn fast for the area.”
The work being done — from 75th Street to 81st Street — is part of a seven-year, 22nd Avenue reconstruction project. The current stretch of the project began on April 22 and is estimated to be done in mid-November.
Area residents were invited to attend a pre-construction meeting with city officials, outlining details of the project and answering any related questions, according to Wilson.
City project engineer James Schwartz was in charge of creating detours and maintaining an effective traffic flow.
“A lot of it is being able to work with the residents, making sure they’re well-informed and helping them through the process once things get going,” Schwartz said.
“It’s about communication. When you get major closures through major intersections, there’s about a one-week adjustment for the public. They’re used to specific routes. I think, at this point, most people have got it down.”
City officials are encouraging drivers to use alternate routes and avoid the 22nd Avenue and 80th Street intersection.
Schwartz said the intersection must remain closed to accommodate extensive underground work planned by the city’s Department of Public Works and We Energies. The intersection could reopen in about two weeks, according to Schwartz.
“We were hoping to have it open next week but the rain slowed us down,” Schwartz said. “Right now, we’re working on a sanitary sewer on the main line.
“We have so much overflow from the rain, they can’t really do much for the new pipe because it’s so full and you can’t bypass it until it goes down.”
Kenosha Police Department has been alerted of reckless drivers and responded with increased patrol in the area, according to Wilson.
“Everyone is happy we’re finally seeing some major road work being done in that area,” Wilson said. “The residents understand this, but they’re not happy with people driving erratically.
“Side streets are not a good thing to use if you don’t necessarily have to use them. It’s an accident waiting to happen.”