September 30, 2020
A section of County Highway 18 that has seen dozens of crashes and even a couple of fatalities in recent years will soon be markedly safer thanks to a joint effort between the RPC and the Champaign County Highway Department. Champaign County is receiving more than $2.5 million in local Highway Safety Improvement Funding from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) that will be used to improve safety along a five-mile stretch of the road otherwise known as the Philo Slab.
At the request of Jeff Blue, the Champaign County Highway Engineer, CUUATS staff performed a traffic signal and all-way stop sign warrant analysis in 2018 at the intersection of the Philo Slab (County Highway 18) and County Road 1200E. That analysis led to several safety improvements at that specific location being implemented based on recommendations from the safety study, such as dual stop signs, a stop sign with blinking LED lights, rumble strips, and yellow “Watch for Vehicles” warning signs with blinking yellow lights on top.
Then in June of 2020, CUUATS staff turned their attention to helping the Champaign County Highway Department complete and submit a Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) application to implement safety infrastructure improvements along the segment of the Philo Slab from the intersection of Illinois 130 in Philo to Route 45 just north of Tolono so that further safety improvements could be made. In August, IDOT formally selected Champaign County to receive funding that will allow for widening the shoulders of that section of the Philo Slab to six feet, including a four-foot asphalt shoulder; recycling the current roadway and replacing the asphalt surface; installing shoulder and centerline rumble strips; flattening sideslopes; replacing culverts as needed; and regrading the ditches.
“Safety is our top priority, so receiving grant funding to help reduce traffic fatalities and severe injuries is great news,” says Rita Morocoima-Black, the RPC’s Planning and Community Development Director.
The Champaign County Highway Department recognized the need to upgrade safety and operations along the Philo Slab, especially in regard to angle, turning, and fixed-object crashes, which resulted in 28 crashes and two fatalities between 2014-2018. These improvements should lead to a reduction in crash frequency and severity along the Philo Slab segment. Design of the project that IDOT is providing funding for will begin in 2021 with construction anticipated in the summer of 2022 or 2023.