When the safety lights on the 300 block of Main Street in Eureka stopped working, Rick Robinson became concerned.
Ten years ago, a Eureka Community Nursery School student was injured by a passing car there, and afterward lights were installed for the safety of the nursery school students.
Robinson has no children of his own and figured he’d look like “some crazy guy who’s trying to cause trouble” by recently checking out the area.
Still, he looked into the matter, and even vowed to pay for the repairs himself if nothing was done about the lights.
“That light was installed after a little boy got hit on his way to school. The community got together to buy those lights and get them installed, and I’d like to be sure things stay safe here for the community, “ he said.
After rounds of calls to city and Eureka school district officials it became clear that no one was really quite sure who was responsible for fixing the lights.
Though they were installed for the benefit of the nursery school on the property of Eureka Christian Church, the lights do not belong to the school itself.
According to Eureka City Manager Melissa Brown, an agreement was made between the city and the Eureka Community Unit School District 140, but no one is sure when or what the details of that agreement are.
ECUSD 140 Superintendent Robert Bardwell called RAB Electric to find out what was wrong with the lights, and found out if they were beyond repair, they would likely remain inoperable. The school district manages the timing of the lights.
“My history is vague, if it was a partnership deal or not, so I just decided to have it looked at,” Bardwell said.
“According to (Eureka police chief, IDOT says we have too many lights, so, if they can’t be fixed, we’ll take the flashing parts down, and leave the signs up,” he added.
On Thursday, April 12 both lights were flashing yellow again, for the sake of the nursery school students and to the relief of residents like Robinson, who would like to see them operating on a regular basis.
It turned out that they simply needed to be reset, which involved unplugging them, then plugging them in again.
Yet it did raise many questions for residents who wonder why that area is so riddled with safety lights. The 300 block of Main Street is a portion of Illinois Route 117 that is heavily trafficked by industrial and agricultural vehicles and semi-trucks.
City of Eureka Mayor Scott Zimmer said as many as 20,000 vehicles pass along Route 117 daily. Eureka Middle School, Davenport Elementary and Eureka Community Grade School are all situated on Route 117.
There are three sets of safety lights on that block of Main Street and all were granted permits by the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Two serve the city for speed reduction, two are at the crosswalk at Davenport Elementary, and the final pair were installed for Eureka Community Nursery School, whose hours differ from those of the grade school.
The nursery school has been operating for more than 40 years, and hosts morning and afternoon classes from September through May each year.
—- Lights keeping school kids safe along Eureka’s Main Street —-