Bloating Palatine’s Quentin Road from 2 to 5 lanes would make it more dangerous
Palatine officials are chomping at the bit to balloon the two-lane stretch of Quentin Road that runs through Deer Grove Forest Preserve on the north side of the northwest suburb into a five-lane highway with two though lanes in each direction plus a turn lane. They claim that more road capacity is needed to improve safety and reduce congestion.
But opponents, including local residents, the Active Transportation Alliance, the Chicago Audubon Society, and the Deer Grove Natural Areas Volunteers, have pointed out that creating a three-lane layout, including a through lane in each direction plus a turn lane, would be a much wiser strategy. This would accommodate traffic within the existing road width while reducing crashes and allowing the construction of a bike and pedestrian sidepath, without the negative aspects of the road expansion, which would induce speeding and erratic driving, harm local flora and fauna, and cost more to construct and maintain.
As reported by the Daily Herald’s Bob Susnjara, last week the Palatine village council approved a resolution asking the Cook County Board to expand the roughly mile-long segment of Quentin between Lake-Cook and Dundee roads “as expeditiously as possible.” This was the third time since 1996 that Palatine has made this request. The Cook County transportation department previously widened the stretch of Quentin south of Dundee Road to Algonquin Road in Schaumburg to five lanes.
According to the Herald, about $505,100 has been earmarked in the county’s 2020 capital budget for the design, planning, and preliminary engineering work for the roughly $40 million Quentin project. Work could begin as early as next year.
Some Palatine residents who live near the section of Quentin proposed for expansion support more than doubling the current number of lanes. The Herald reported that representatives of two homeowners associations from nearby subdivisions endorsed the plan at last week’s council meeting. “I think everybody loves the forest preserve,” Dunhaven East association President Eric Wasowicz said. “We all love the trees. But we also love life itself. And we’ve seen so many [crashes] there over the years.”
However other nearby residents formed an opposition group called Build Quentin Right 11 years ago, the Herald reported. Along with Active Trans and the environmental groups, they’re arguing that the massive road expansion isn’t needed, would be actually counterproductive to safety, and would negatively impact the forest preserve through tree removal and increased traffic that would endanger wildlife.
The Build Quentin Right website argues that “the majority of people who live off Quentin Road oppose the five lane expansion and favor a three lane solution” and says “The Cook County Highway Department… is pushing hard for the approval of the plan that ignores the needs of major stakeholders in the project.”
The BQR folks note that that a three-lane road is safer than a five-lane one because it won’t induce speeding or many more car trips compared to the two-lane status quo. However, the added turn lane will keep turning drivers out of the way of through traffic, and the three-lane layout would have sufficient capacity for the estimated 20,000 average daily vehicle trips on this stretch of Quentin. It would also leave room for the proposed separated bike/ped trail on the east side of the road.