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Marion

Watch now: Roundabout considered for Wildcat and Route 37 intersection in Marion

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The Illinois Department of Transportation complied crash data from 2013 through 2021 for the section of Route 37 they would be updating.

MARION — The Illinois Department of Transportation’s upcoming Route 37 improvements now potentially include a roundabout and some lights at the Wildcat Drive intersection.

IDOT wants to make roughly 7.7 miles of Route 37 safer after close to 218 crashes were reported from 2013 to 2021, according to agency crash data. The improvements will begin near Wildcat Drive and will continue south ending near Illinois 148 including a new roundabout.

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“The proposed improvements – the addition of paved shoulders, widening shoulders, the removal/relocation of hazards, flattening ditch slopes, resurfacing, restriping, rumble strips, and the addition of the roundabout – all have the potential to reduce crashes rates and lower the severity of crashes that occur," an IDOT representative said. “For example, many of the crashes along (Route 37) are roadway departure crashes and many of the proposed improvements listed should reduce the number and severity of roadway departure crashes.”

Over eight years of crash data, there were roughly 73 reported injuries, 7 fatalities and 22 DUIs, according to IDOT’s data. About 114 of the crashes were collisions and roughly 108 of the crashes occurred in the nighttime.

IDOT accepted comments on the proposed improvements through Dec. 15.

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Following several comments mentioning the Wildcat Drive and Route 37 intersection, IDOT is looking into the possibility of adding a roundabout at that location, an IDOT representative said.

That stretch of Route 37, between Lexington Street and Crites Road, had the fourth greatest number of crashes over the eight years with roughly 20 vehicular accidents occurring.

The only other sections of road with a higher number are Reservoir Road to Freedom Road with 28, Crites Road to Maxine Lane with 22 and Limb Branch to Cochran Road with 21.

The roundabout was originally in IDOT’s plan despite Mayor Mike Absher having been a proponent of something being done at that intersection, which is a entrypoint to Marion High School, for years.

“IDOT's bridge over Crab Orchard Creek presents a vision problem for Wildcat Drive vehicles approaching Route 37,” Absher said. “The roundabout eliminates the problem as the driver is only concerned with southbound vehicles approaching the roundabout. I believe that will slow traffic, but keep it moving more efficiently at the same time. More importantly, that should largely improve the entry on and off of Wildcat to Route 37, particularly in high traffic times when school is starting and letting out as well as sporting events at MHS.” 

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Since a majority of the accidents occurred in the nighttime, IDOT is also considering adding lighting to select areas.

“Approximately 100 of the crashes occurred during darkness conditions and 43% of these nighttime crashes were animal crashes,” IDOT said. "Roadway lighting is typically used in urban areas, intersections, and areas with pedestrians.  Local municipalities would have to share in the cost and maintenance of roadway lighting.  Since the majority of the project is in a rural area and we are trying to remove hazards (light poles can be roadway hazards) from the roadway clear zone.”

The only places IDOT is currently considering adding lights are the Route 37 and Wildcat Drive intersection and the Route 37 and Lake of Egypt Road intersection.

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Due to the high traffic volume at the Lake of Egypt intersection, IDOT is considering adding left and right turn lanes, IDOT said.

The milling and resurfacing project is expected to begin in the late summer of 2023 and extend through 2024, according to IDOT.

The project is still in phase I where they will continue to environmental studies and preliminary designs, IDOT said.

They are expecting to begin phase II where they will refine the design and being the land acquisition process.

For more information on the project, to see aerial photos, or view the data they provided you can visit https://idot.illinois.gov/projects/IL-37-to-IL-148.html 

All statistics are based on an analysis of IDOT data and crash estimates.

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