News - McHenry County

Funding, control of road are lingering questions in talks for stoplight outside of Prairie Ridge High School

Intersection, which is an entrance and exit to Prairie Ridge, has seen several crashes over past few years

The intersection of Dvorak Drive and Walkup Road outside Prairie Ridge High School in Crystal Lake, pictured Thursday, March 31, 2022, is within a high crash site, with several officials and parents saying there should be a stoplight placed at the spot.

Despite several government bodies supporting a stoplight outside of Prairie Ridge High School in Crystal Lake for safety reasons, some officials still have questions.

At a transportation committee meeting last week, a handful of members from the McHenry County Board discussed what would need to happen in order to have a stoplight installed at the intersection of Dvorak Drive and Walkup Road.

While the item has support, some key points of the proposal are still lingering. Funding for the installation, which could cost between $400,000 and $500,000, along with questions about who controls Dvorak, are still up in the air.

County Board member Jim Kearns, R-Huntley, who chairs the transportation committee, said more information needs to be gathered.

“We don’t have all the facts yet,” Kearns said. “Until we have all the facts, this is kind of crazy just to say we’re going to spend this money.”

Concerns about the intersection, which sits just outside of Prairie Ridge High School as an entrance and exit to the school, are rooted in multiple traffic crashes from over the years.

The installation, which some officials and residents have said they’ve wanted for years now, gained new momentum after County Board member Kelli Wegener, D-Crystal Lake, requested the county take up the issue.

Wegener, along with Community High School District 155 Superintendent Steve Olson, were both in attendance last Wednesday to talk about the request.

Olson specifically called it a “safety concern,” and said the district’s school board has expressed an interest in having it installed.

“If we can make this work, we’re all in favor of doing something like this,” he said at the meeting.

Wegener also read comments from people interested in seeing a stoplight put up at the intersection, with a few saying traffic conditions paired with the inexperience of high school drivers makes it a need.

“These are pages and pages of comments,” Wegener said.

The intersection of Dvorak Drive and Walkup Road outside Prairie Ridge High School in Crystal Lake, pictured Thursday, March 31, 2022, is within a high crash site, with several officials and parents saying there should be a stoplight placed at the spot.

The Crystal Lake City Council also passed a resolution unanimously in support at its June 7 meeting. Nunda Township has also suggested they’re interested, Wegener said.

While there is strong interest, the parties involved have stopped short of offering money for the installation.

Olson said he would ask the school board what it’s interested in doing, while Wegener suggested the light may also qualify for funds provided to the county through the American Rescue Plan Act.

Another lingering question is who exactly controls the roadway. County staff has been working in the past couple of months to answer this question, but nothing definitive has been found out yet, officials said at the meeting. It’s thought Nunda Township may control it, but others suggested it may have been built by District 155.

Once that’s figured out, Wegener said that any issues with this can be solved with an agreement between the governments involved.

“In my opinion it really shouldn’t matter who owns what,” Wegener said.

Some members mentioned that there are schools with similar issues throughout McHenry County. Stephen Doherty, R-McHenry, asked what’s to stop other entities from asking for a similar request, saying he wants to make sure proper procedure is followed.

“I understand the sensitivity of students,” he said. “What precludes [others] from coming and asking for the same thing?”

County Board member John Collins, D-Crystal Lake, said if there are other schools that need it, then it should be something the county addresses.

“Our goal is to make sure people can move safely within the community,” he said. “We should be focused on this one, and we take them as they come.”