Here’s what officials are doing about fatal wrecks on rural highway in southwest IL

·2 min read

After years of deadly crashes on the winding two-lane highway that runs through their rural community, Washington County residents said they wished something could be done to make the road safer.

Officials recently took action.

State troopers have been increasing patrols on the 30-mile stretch of Illinois 15 in Washington County, according to Trooper Joshua Robinson, a spokesman for Illinois State Police.

State Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville, requested the increased patrols in late July following Belleville News-Democrat reporting on residents’ concerns about Illinois 15.

The BND identified 14 fatal crashes on Illinois 15 in the past 15 years, which killed a total of 17 people. The latest crash happened July 8.

Most of the fatal crashes happened at curves in the road. Six involved drunken drivers. Speeding was a factor in three. Some crashes included all of these contributing factors.

Residents told the BND they thought Illinois 15 could be improved by increasing the police presence on the road to slow drivers; adding flashing lights to signs to better alert drivers to upcoming curves and intersections; widening the road or adding a shoulder to make curves safer; or straightening the curves altogether.

Meier and Illinois Department of Transportation representatives have talked about possible safety improvements for Illinois 15 but no action has been taken yet. Meier has said road projects often take years of planning and millions of dollars if they move beyond discussion, based on his experience.

Since Meier’s request for law enforcement patrols, Robinson said between one and three state troopers have been sent to Illinois 15 when they were available. He could not say exactly how many troopers were assigned to Illinois 15 on a daily basis before Meier’s request, but he noted Washington County is a routine patrol assignment.

“The increased patrols are still occurring when staffing allows,” Robinson stated in an email to the BND. “One Trooper, if not more, are assigned to Washington County each shift.”

Robinson said troopers have issued several citations and warnings to drivers, but the exact number of citations and specific violations involved were not readily available.