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home : news : local   May 25, 2016

12/18/2013 6:00:00 AM
Learning curve kicks in at Peru intersection

A car makes a right turn onto 38th Street from Venture Drive in Peru. The intersection, redesigned last year to relieve backups to Route 251, directs many drivers over to North Peoria Street.NewsTribune photo/Scott Anderson
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A car makes a right turn onto 38th Street from Venture Drive in Peru. The intersection, redesigned last year to relieve backups to Route 251, directs many drivers over to North Peoria Street.

NewsTribune photo/Scott Anderson

Jeff Dankert
NewsTribune Reporter

When the city of Peru changed the traffic rules at 38th Street and Venture Drive in 2012, motorists protested.

More than a year later, with holiday shoppers jamming Peru’s north end, it appears drivers have adapted to the changes.

“As time goes by people have gotten used to it,” said Peru police deputy chief Bob Pyszka. “I think it’s working.”

The rules were designed to keep traffic flowing but some businesses protested that it reduced traffic and hurt profits. The city asked drivers and businesses to be patient and adapt.

“You know how change is,” Pyszka said. “Everybody gets in an uproar and then after a while it’s fine.”

The goal of the change, to prevent traffic from backing up onto nearby Route 251, appears to have been reached, said Pyszka and police chief Doug Bernabei.

Venture and 38th had been a four-way stop. During busy times, westbound cars stopped at 38th would back up to the busy Route 251. In July 2012 the city eliminated the stop sign for westbound traffic on 38th but it also made some other changes. Traffic from the north on Venture Drive could only turn right onto 38th to North Peoria Street and eastbound traffic on 38th could no longer turn left onto Venture Drive.

The entrance and parking lot of a strip mall with Dollar Tree, Goodwill, MC Sports and Hobby Lobby became a turnaround for drivers to get back onto Route 251 from southbound Venture Drive. A few drivers still do this but traffic flow has improved, said Deann Michaels, manager at MC Sports.

“Other than that it seems to be OK,” Michaels said. “People have gotten used to it.”

However, there is more traffic moving directly in front of the stores toward the exit onto 38th Street, adding risk to pedestrians, Michaels said. The drivers use this lane so they can head east back to Route 251 instead of looping onto North Peoria, Michaels said.

“Like with any parking lot and shopping area you have to go through a maze to get to where you need to go,” Michaels said.

Such as at Orland Square Mall in Orland Park, Bernabei said. Traffic there is nightmarish compared to north Peru, he said.

When the Peru switch happened, Bernabei thought new traffic problems would spring up and he was surprised they did not, he said.

“The proof’s in the pudding,” Bernabei said.

This doesn’t mean that drivers will not get into accidents and disobey traffic laws, Bernabei said.

That’s what happened in late October when a motorist made a U-turn around traffic cones at high speed into oncoming traffic. There was no accident but the motorist was ticketed with reckless driving, disobeying a stop sign, improper turn, driving in the wrong lane and disobeying a traffic control device, according to a police report.

Fortunately there have not been any accidents caused by traffic on 38th and Venture, Bernabei said.

“No question about it,” he said. “It’s part of the learning curve. People have become more used to it. And there’s no question that out-of-towners are following the signs directing them to stores and North Peoria Street and Route 251. The biggest learning curve has been with the people that travel it on a regular basis.”

Jeff Puetz of Peru works at Jeff Perry Buick GMC just southeast of the intersection and often runs over to nearby stores from work, as he did Tuesday.

“I do not know what the best solution is,” Puetz said, standing in front of the strip mall. “It’s just tough when I want to go to any one of those places.”

“Those places” are businesses along Venture Drive to the north. To return back to work, Puetz has to loop around onto North Peoria and then come back east on 38th.

“It’s not the end of the world,” he said.

Jeff Dankert can be reached at (815) 220-6977 or

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